How to approach material selection for waste minimisation – a guide for dealing with material suppliers

This note, originally published in November 1999, was reviewed by Andrew Walker-Morison and Tim Grant in September 2004. 

There is now widespread recognition among government and industry that environmental impacts are best avoided rather than treated. In relation to waste minimisation, this translates into the need for waste avoidance and reduction, rather than end-of-pipe solutions. From a practical perspective, building design professionals and specifiers can undertake some small but significant steps towards facilitating waste minimisation through the materials selection process. This note provides some general background and a step-wise approach to quizzing manufacturers, suppliers and their agents about the ‘waste’ related environmental performance of their materials so that design professionals can make more informed decisions themselves. The note is derived from the Australian EcoSpecifier Project - a strategic alliance project between the Centre for Design at RMIT University, EcoRecycle Victoria and the Society for Responsible Design.

note summary
  1. Introduction
  2. Drivers for environmentally preferable materials
  3. The life cycle context of materials
  4. Dealing with suppliers
  5. Conclusion