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An investigation into challenges and opportunities in the Australian construction and demolition waste management system

Salman Shooshtarian (School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Savindi Caldera (Cities Research Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Tayyab Maqsood (Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Tim Ryley (School of Engineering and Built Environment, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Malik Khalfan (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 24 September 2021

Issue publication date: 7 December 2022




The literature shows that the current Australian waste management framework does not meet industry and government expectations. This study, therefore, seeks the key construction and demolition (C&D) stakeholders' insights on various issues identified. It aims to understand the main barriers to effective C&D waste management, examining the role of the federal government and exploring perceptions around waste regulations, policies and schemes.


An online survey was conducted in 2019 to capture stakeholder perceptions. One hundred and thirty-two participants from various industries and government agencies representing Australian jurisdictions took part in the survey. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected.


The results show that the main barriers are “overregulation, tough acceptance criteria and increased testing requirements”, “lack of local market” and “culture, poor education and low acceptance”. The main areas of improvement include “providing a guideline that determines the accepted level of contamination for reusing C&D waste”, “preparation of guidelines on requirements of using recycled C&D materials in different industries” and “setting a target for reduction, reusing and recycling C&D waste”.

Research limitations/implications

Some research findings may not be generalisable beyond Australia, but there are interesting insights for an international audience. The results inform policy development within the Australian states and territories context, to support the design and implementation of a circular economy model in the construction industry. The findings are evidence for a broader discussion to solve prevailing issues in C&D waste management, notably in the context of construction materials' end of life management.

Practical implications

The study highlights that policy development needs to be further expanded to include new/current waste management schemes including manufacturer's shared responsibility of waste generation, subsidies for C&D waste recycled materials and the proximity principle.


This paper provides a clear insight into C&D waste management stakeholders' perceptions towards the current waste management system in Australia.



The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Australia’s Sustainable Built Environment National Research Center, Project 1.65. However, the views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of SBEnrc.


Shooshtarian, S., Caldera, S., Maqsood, T., Ryley, T. and Khalfan, M. (2022), "An investigation into challenges and opportunities in the Australian construction and demolition waste management system", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 29 No. 10, pp. 4313-4330.



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