Evaluating environmental impacts of alternative construction waste management approaches using supply-chain-linked life-cycle analysis

Waste Manag Res. 2014 Jun;32(6):500-8. doi: 10.1177/0734242X14536457. Epub 2014 May 22.


Waste management in construction is critical for the sustainable treatment of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) waste materials, and recycling of these wastes has been considered as one of the best strategies in minimization of C&D debris. However, recycling of C&D materials may not always be a feasible strategy for every waste type and therefore recycling and other waste treatment strategies should be supported by robust decision-making models. With the aim of assessing the net carbon, energy, and water footprints of C&D recycling and other waste management alternatives, a comprehensive economic input-output-based hybrid life-cycle assessment model is developed by tracing all of the economy-wide supply-chain impacts of three waste management strategies: recycling, landfilling, and incineration. Analysis results showed that only the recycling of construction materials provided positive environmental footprint savings in terms of carbon, energy, and water footprints. Incineration is a better option as a secondary strategy after recycling for water and energy footprint categories, whereas landfilling is found to be as slightly better strategy when carbon footprint is considered as the main focus of comparison. In terms of construction materials' environmental footprint, nonferrous metals are found to have a significant environmental footprint reduction potential if recycled.

Keywords: Construction waste management; US buildings; environmental footprint; hybrid life-cycle assessment; supply chain; sustainability.

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / analysis
  • Construction Industry / methods
  • Construction Materials*
  • Environment*
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Incineration
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Recycling / methods
  • Refuse Disposal / methods
  • Solid Waste / analysis
  • Waste Disposal Facilities
  • Waste Management / methods*
  • Wood


  • Plastics
  • Solid Waste
  • Carbon