Reducing waste to landfill: A need for cultural change in the UK construction industry
Ajayi, S. ed
- Publisher: Elsevier
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.Owing to its contribution of largest portion of landfill wastes and consumption of about half of mineral resources excavated from nature, construction industry has been pressed to improve its sustainability. Despite an adoption of several waste management strategies, and introduction of various legislative measures, reducing waste generated by the industry remains challenging. In order to understand cultural factors contributing to waste intensiveness of the industry, as well as those preventing effectiveness of existing waste management strategies, this study examines cultural profile of construction industry. Drawing on four focus group discussions with industry experts, the study employs phenomenological approach to explore waste inducing cultural factors. Combining findings from phenomenological research with extant literatures, the study suggests that in order to reduce waste intensiveness of the construction industry, five waste inducing cultural factors need to be changed. These include (i) "make-do" understanding that usually result in "make-do waste" (ii) non-collaborative culture, which results in reworks and other forms of wasteful activities (iii) blame culture, which encourages shifting of waste preventive responsibilities between designers and contractors, (iv) culture of waste behaviour, which encourages belief in waste inevitability, and (v) conservatism, which hinders diffusion of innovation across the industry. Changing these sets of cultural and behavioural activities is not only important for engendering waste management practices; they are requisite for effectiveness of existing strategies. Improvement in the identified areas is also required for overall improvement and general resource efficiency of the construction industry. Thus, this paper advocates cultural shift as a means of reducing waste landfilled by the construction industry, thereby enhancing sustainability and profitability of the industry.