Quantifying demolition fitout waste from Australian office buildings

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Facilities, 2018, 36 (11-12), pp. 600 - 617
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© 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The short life cycle replacement of fitout in modern high-rise office buildings represents an under-researched waste problem. This paper aims to quantify the amount of demolition waste from office strip-out including attention to waste streams going to landfill, reuse and recycling. Design/methodology/approach: Quantitative waste data (by weight) were measured from 23 office fitout projects situated in “A” grade office building stock from the Sydney CBD. Waste streams were measured separately for landfill, reuse and recycled materials. Descriptive and clustering statistics are presented and analysed. Findings: From a total of 9,167 tonnes office fitouts demolished, 5,042 tonnes are going to landfill. The main contributor to landfill stream is the mixed waste generated in a fast-track demolition process. This approach partly resulted from the office interiors lacking regularity and easy disassembly. Moreover, considerable variability is observed in the waste per area, the waste streams and the waste compositions. Also, it is noteworthy that the recycled waste stream considerably increases when there exist economically viable conversion facilities, as for metals, hard fills and plasterboards. Research limitations/implications: The research is focused upon work practices that take place in Australia; therefore, generalisability is limited to situations that have similar characteristics. Future studies are needed to verify and extend the findings of this research. Practical implications: A key area arising from the research findings is the need to design fitout with recycling and reuse in mind to divert more from landfill. This must explore and incorporate onsite demolition processes to ensure the design is well suited to commercially dominant processes in the overall demolition process, as well as attention to developing economies of scale and viability in re-sale markets for reused items. Originality/value: Little empirical or quantitative research exists in the area of office fitout waste. This research provides entry to this area via quantifiable data that enables comparison, benchmarking and diagnostic ability that can be used to underpin strategic solutions and measurement of improvements.
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