Barriers to Construction, Renovation and Demolition waste management in Ontario

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Barriers to Construction, Renovation and Demolition waste management in Ontario

Ramanpreet Sandhu

McMaster University

A thesis for the

partial fulfillment of

Master of Engineering and

Public Policy

Thesis supervisor

Dr. Velma Grover

McMaster University


In Canada, 27% of the total solid waste is generated by the CRD (Construction, Renovation & Demolition) industry and is disposed of in a landfill (Yeheyis, 2013). The CRD industry experts suggest that approximately 75% of all the waste generated by the CRD industry has a residual value through recycling and reusing (Yeheyis, 2013). The current recycling rate for the CRD industry in Canada is 16% which is one-fourth of the target set by the Ministry of Environment in Ontario waste diversion goals (OWMA, 2015). According to various researches, the waste is planned into the construction projects even before the project has started. On the other hand, the end of life fate of the waste generated i.e. landfilling or reusing is decided on the basis of costs involved and monetary gains instead of policies being in place (PIC1, 2015). These problems create a need for better policies, management systems and rating systems. Various barriers which are causing this disparity of proposed targets and actual diversion rates are analysed in this paper in depth. In the end, this paper also proposes some policy recommendations to minimize the waste generated and, incentivize the sustainable practices to deal with the CRD waste. The policy recommendation will be based on the Japanese CRD waste management system because of their 98% CRD waste diversion rate


Abstract 2

List of acronyms 4

Definitions 5

1Background 5

2Introduction 6

3Problem Statement 7

4Sources of CRD waste 7

5Ontario’s status quo 8

6Japan’s status quo 9

7Markets in Ontario 14

8Challenges in Canada 14

8.1 Uncertainty in reporting 15

8.2 Demolition and Deconstruction 15

8.3 Lack of Extended Producer Responsibility 16

8.4 3R’s principle 17

8.5 Markets 18

8.6 Inefficient policy 19

8.7 Waste in perfect shape 20

8.8 Enforcing current policy 21

8.9 Availability of cheap alternatives 22

8.10 Lack of interaction 24

8.11 Management issues 25

9 Solution exists 25

10 Policy Recommendations 28

10.1 Alteration of the thresholds and Building Codes 29

10.2 Pricing for a reform 30

10.3 Extended Producer Responsibility 31

10.4 Mandatory Reporting 32

11 Conclusion 36

12 References 37

List of acronyms

  • CRD- Construction renovation and demolition

  • PIC- Personal Interaction with Contractor

  • OWMA- Ontario Waste Management Association

  • ICI- Industrial, Commercial and Institutional sector

  • MOE- Ministry of Environment

  • HFH- Habitat for Humanity

  • RCO- Recycling Council of Ontario

  • WDO- Waste Diversion Organization

  • IFO- Industry Funded organization

  • D&D- demolition and deconstruction

  • EPR- Extended Producer Responsibility


CRD waste can be defined as the waste from the construction, renovation and demolition of buildings, bridges, roads etc. in the form of concrete, wood, gypsum, metal etc.

Waste diversion in the construction industry can be defined as the ability to collect as many kinds of waste materials from a CRD site, sort them on site by collecting them into different bins and finally shipping them to the transfer stations (PIC, 2015).
  1. Background

Construction industry is the biggest consumer of the raw minerals extracted from the earth, it accounts for 60% of the raw materials extracted from the lithosphere2. The building materials account for half to one third of all the manufactured goods3. In Canada, the CRD industry accounts for 25% of the waste present in the landfills and for 35% of all the GHG’s emitted in Canada (The Sheltair Group, 2008). The impacts of the CRD industry goes far beyond the project itself as different types of resources are utilized in a single project. The major processes involved in lifecycle of any material are production, transportation, and disposal after the life cycle is completed. So it is very important to have a sustainable approach towards CRD industry when we are dealing with huge quantities of resources.
  1. Introduction

Ontario has one of the highest per capita productions of solid waste in the world amounting to 1 ton/person/year (2008). It is twice as much as that of Japan and totals to 12 million tonnes and it has been increasing steadily since 1990 (Municipal waste generation, 2013). Each year, almost 80% of the waste is disposed off in landfills, out of which 30% is sent outside the province and the remaining 50% is disposed of in Ontario into the landfills (OWMA, 2015).

The CRD waste generated in Canada is estimated to be about 10 million tonnes, which is roughly 25-33% of the total solid waste generated (Yeheyis, 2013). According to the recycling council of Ontario (2006), the main components of CRD waste are concrete, wood, steel drywall, gypsum, asphalt and other masonry. These components make up more than 60% of residential CRD waste and 80 % industrial, commercial and institutional sector (ICI) CRD waste.

The diversion rate of solid waste in Ontario is 22% which mainly consists of waste from homes and residential sector (39% diversion rate) while the ICI diverts only 12% of solid waste4. Therefore, a policy change focusing on these specific materials will be able to get Ontario back on course of the desired 60% goal as per MOE (2004).

There are examples of countries like Japan who have achieved diversion rates of 91% for wood, 98% for concrete and 99% of asphalt waste5. They have established various material cycles in their society which reduces their consumption of new resources and increases the reuse and recycling of the already used resources. In this study, I will try to look at their policy framework, existing barriers in Ontario responsible for low recycling rate in Ontario and try to compare the central features of Japanese policies with the existing Canadian policies.

  1. Problem Statement

This inquiry paper aims to conduct a comprehensive review of the Construction, renovation and demolition (CRD) management regulations in Ontario. Various barriers in the management of the CRD waste are discussed in this paper. The concluding section of paper include recommendations based on the barriers found in Ontario and better CRD waste management practices and policies in Japan. The major question raised in this paper is the reason for less diversion rate of CRD waste in Ontario.
  1. Sources of CRD waste

The two main sources of CRD waste are residential sector (47%) and ICI sector (53%) (Franklin, 1998). The three components construction, renovation and demolition vary a lot in their contribution to the waste. Renovation is the highest contributor to the residential waste (55%) followed by demolition waste (34%) and the least is construction waste (11%) (Sinclair, 2006). In case of the non-residential sector, demolition is the highest contributor (58%), renovation being the second (36%) and the construction waste is again the least with 6% contribution (Sinclair, 2006). These findings are almost in line with the Recycling Council of Ontario (2006) report that the demolition projects can create 20-30 times the waste created by the new construction projects.
  1. Ontario’s status quo

In Canada, the power to protect the environment has been divided to all levels of government. The municipal government is responsible for collection, diversion and disposal activities. The provincial government is responsible for licensing, approval and monitoring operations. At provincial level, Ontario regulates the necessary waste management activities at the provincial level for various construction and demolition activities under Ontario’s 3R’s regulation (3R- Reduce, reuse, recycle).

The Ontario Ministry of the Environmental passed its first regulation 102/94, which is applicable on CRD wastes. It focuses on the requirement of waste audits and plans by business owners for waste reduction based on the construction and demolition of the same project6. The plan for waste management by owners should include information like: -

  • Who is implementing each part of plan?

  • When to implement?

  • What are the expected results?

The central requirements include measuring the quantity of waste, identifying the composition and the manner in which the waste is produced.

The second and more recent regulation is 103/94 states that owner of buildings with more than 6 residential units are required to separate the waste according to the nature of the source and recycle some types of wastes which are specified in regulation7. The mandated items for separation in this regulation are concrete, drywall (unpainted), steel and wood with an exception of drywall in demolition projects. Both these regulations are applicable for the project the buildings with floor area greater than 2000m2.

In the year 2002, the provincial government introduced the Waste Diversion Act to promote the 3R’s principle by setting out rules, regulations and framework for the producer responsibility based diversion program. The Ontario waste diversion goal issued in 2004 by the Ministry of Environment was set at 60% so that the solid waste could be diverted away from the landfills (MOE, 2004).

The rate of waste diversion has been increasing with an overall sluggish trend (Button 2013). However as specified earlier, the 13% diversion rate in Ontario suggests that there are opportunities available for diverting the CRD waste. Most of the municipalities in Ontario plan newer programs for CRD waste in their respective regions for increasing the diversion but they are able to initiate only a handful programs (Button, 2013). These programs have minimal or no effect over the CRD waste stream and some get discontinued due to the monetary constraints.

  1. Japan’s status quo

In the year 2001, Japan adopted a new framework for promoting the technological and social changes for establishing better material cycle in the society. The law responsible for establishing a material Cycles society defines the recyclable resources and the principles for their utilization.

The government has established various policies for waste management such as waste management such environmental consideration during construction and manufacturing stages. The policies have also focused to develop the independent businesses for the waste management, collection and recycling activities. They are aimed for effective use of resources, reduce waste generation and protect the environment.

The main objective of the law is to create a society in which the consumption of newer resources is retrained and the load on environment is minimized by using the principles of 3R’s and effective waste management strategies. It works by setting targets for three indicators which are:

  • Productivity of resource

  • Cyclical use rate

  • End disposal rate


Figure 1- It shows the various themes implemented to attain sustainable development in the Japanese Waste Management.

The legislations dealing with waste management in Japan are:

  • Waste disposal and Public cleansing law- The basic purpose of Waste Management law is to limit waste generation and ensure proper storage sorting, collection, recycling, disposal etc. of waste for preservation of living environment8.

  • Law for the promotion of effective utilization of resources- The main purpose for this law is to provide a mechanism for encouraging the generation of new products by utilising the recyclable resources and reusable parts9.

The law dealing with the CRD waste is known as Construction Waste Recycling Law (2002) which came into effect on May, 2002. It aims to promote the recycling and sorting of waste concrete, asphalt and other materials which get discarded in the process of demolishing of buildings. It requires the contractors to sort out and recycle waste generated at their CRD site. The different types of the designated construction materials like concrete, asphalt, wood are covered under it. Various type of CRD sites are considered according to the area or contracting amount of the particular project in accordance to the minimum threshold specified in the policy.

Type of construction

Standard size

Demolition of a building

80 m2 or more (total floor space)

Construction of a new building or extension

500 m2 or more (total floor space)

Renovation work, etc.

Contracting fee (100 million yen or more)

Civil engineering work, etc.

Contracting fee (5 million yen or more)


Figure 2- Represents a flowchart depicting the flow of the CRD waste during the recycling activities.

Under this law, the person who is managing the construction works is obliged to submit a plan for sorting the CRD waste to the governor of the prefecture. It has to be done 7 days prior to the start of the work. The projected expense for the demolition and recycling has to be specified in the contract. The contactor is responsible for sending the CRD waste to the treatment. After the completion the contractor reports to the authorities.

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