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General Construction Site Waste Management

Minimum Measure: Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control

Subcategory: Good Houskeeping/Materials Management


Building materials and other construction site wastes must be properly managed and disposed of to reduce the risk of pollution from materials such as surplus or refuse building materials or hazardous wastes. Practices such as trash disposal, recycling, proper material handling, and spill prevention and cleanup measures can reduce the potential for stormwater runoff to mobilize construction site wastes and contaminate surface or ground water.


The proper management and disposal of wastes should be practiced at every construction site to reduce stormwater runoff. Use waste management practices to properly locate refuse piles, to cover materials that might be displaced by rainfall or stormwater runoff, and to prevent spills and leaks from hazardous materials that were improperly stored.

Siting and Design Considerations

Solid Wastes:

  • Designate a waste collection area on the site that does not receive a substantial amount of runoff from upland areas and does not drain directly to a waterbody.
  • Ensure that containers have lids so they can be covered before periods of rain, and keep containers in a covered area whenever possible.
  • Schedule waste collection to prevent the containers from overfilling.
  • Clean up spills immediately. For hazardous materials, follow cleanup instructions on the package. Use an absorbent material such as sawdust or kitty litter to contain the spill.
    • During the demolition phase of construction, provide extra containers and schedule more frequent pickups.
    • Collect, remove, and dispose of all construction site wastes at authorized disposal areas. Contact a local environmental agency to identify these disposal sites.

Hazardous Materials and Wastes:

  • Consult with local waste management authorities about the requirements for disposing of hazardous materials.
  • To prevent leaks, empty and clean hazardous waste containers before disposing of them.
  • Never remove the original product label from the container because it contains important safety information. Follow the manufacturer's recommended method of disposal, which should be printed on the label.
  • Never mix excess products when disposing of them, unless specifically recommended by the manufacturer.

To ensure the proper disposal of contaminated soils that have been exposed to and still contain hazardous substances, consult with state or local solid waste regulatory agencies or private firms. Some landfills might accept contaminated soils, but they require laboratory tests first.

Paint and dirt are often removed from surfaces by sandblasting. Sandblasting grits are the byproducts of this procedure and consist of the sand used and the paint and dirt particles that are removed from the surface. These materials are considered hazardous if they are removed from older structures because they are more likely to contain lead-, cadmium-, or chrome-based paints. To ensure proper disposal of sandblasting grits, contract with a licensed waste management or transport and disposal firm.

Pesticides and fertilizers:

  • Follow all federal, state, and local regulations that apply to the use, handling, or disposal of pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Do not handle the materials any more than necessary.
  • Store pesticides and fertilizers in a dry, covered area.
  • Construct berms or dikes to contain stored pesticides and fertilizers in case of spillage.
  • Follow the recommended application rates and methods.
  • Have equipment and absorbent materials available in storage and application areas to contain and clean up any spills that occur.

Petroleum Products:

  • Store new and used petroleum products for vehicles in covered areas with berms or dikes in place to contain any spills.
  • Immediately contain and clean up any spills with absorbent materials.
  • Have equipment available in fuel storage areas and in vehicles to contain and clean up any spills that occur.


Phosphorous- and nitrogen-containing detergents are used in wash water for cleaning vehicles. Excesses of these nutrients can be a major source of water pollution. Use detergents only as recommended, and limit their use on the site. Do not dump wash water containing detergents into the storm drain system; direct it to a sanitary sewer or contain it so that it can be treated at a wastewater treatment plant.


An effective waste management system requires training and signage to promote awareness of the hazards of improper storage, handling, and disposal of wastes. The only way to be sure that waste management practices are being followed is to be aware of worker habits and to inspect storage areas regularly. Extra management time may be required to ensure that all workers are following the proper procedures.

Maintenance Considerations

Inspect storage and use areas and identify containers or equipment that could malfunction and cause leaks or spills. Check equipment and containers for leaks, corrosion, support or foundation failure, or other signs of deterioration, and test them for soundness. Immediately repair or replace any that are found to be defective.


Waste management practices are effective only when they are regularly practiced at a construction site. In storage and use areas, post the guidelines for proper handling, storage, and disposal of construction site wastes; train workers in these practices to ensure that everyone is knowledgeable enough to participate.

Cost Considerations

The costs associated with construction site waste management are mainly attributed to purchasing and posting signs, increased management time for oversight, additional labor required for special handling of wastes, transportation costs for waste hauling, and fees charged by disposal facilities to take the wastes.


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Last updated on May 24, 2006