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How to Reduce Waste on Site

Waste is a persistent problem on building sites. However, conscious construction is growing and gaining popularity. The aim to reduce waste requires full site and client cooperation. There are several strategies to undertake in terms of materials and tools, but also in terms of offsetting carbon emissions and reducing embodied carbon. In this blog, we will discuss these strategies as well as suggest tools that can reduce waste on-site.

Materials to reduce waste

The effort of reducing waste always starts with the materials you select. An external wall insulation system requires a multitude of different materials, including basecoats, primers, insulation, fixings, renders, and more. However daunting that may initially sound, many materials can serve a dual purpose.

For instance, let us examine basecoats with a dual purpose. The secondary purpose of many EWI Store basecoats is their capability to work as adhesives for insulation boards. The premier options in this department include EWI-225 Premium Basecoat and EWI-220 EPS Basecoat.

Premium Basecoat is breathable, high strength and durable. EWI-225 is EWI Pro’s finest basecoat adhesive and is suitable for a range of solutions. For example, this product is ideal as a basecoat/adhesive for Mineral Wool, Kingspan K5 and Wood Fibre insulation boards, or as a render-only solution for a range of substrates, including render carrier board. The adhesive contains white Portland cement – making it stronger than other basecoat adhesives. Once the basecoat has dried it provides an incredibly strong and flexible reinforcement layer; we therefore highly recommend this product for ‘render only’ systems.

Our most popular EPS-compatible basecoat. The major selling point of this particular product is its dual-purpose use. As it is also a bedding adhesive, only one type of product is required on-site. Therefore, there is less wastage on site and disposal is simple. Moreover, there is no confusion about water mix proportions or usability time, eliminating potential errors which affect performance.

In theory, our range of Silicone Renders also reduces waste on site. They already hold excellent hydrophobic qualities and are tinted to any colour, therefore do not require a coating of paint.

Tools to reduce waste

Another crucial asset to consider when thinking about reducing waste is the tools at your disposal. For example, you can infinitely reuse your render buckets for mixing and cleaning purposes. As such, they do not go to landfill. Many tools will also function with the same effect irrespective of whether you’re applying basecoats, adhesives, or render. Therefore, you only require a few hand tools on site, as opposed to highly specialised tools. However, the tools with the most impact in reducing waste are spray machines and EPS cutters.

cleaning tools

Using EPS Cutters to Reduce Waste

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is a popular choice for insulation due to its excellent thermal resistance, lightweight, and versatility. But, as with any construction material, installing it can produce waste. EPS cutters are innovative tools that can help minimise this waste, making your insulation process more efficient and environmentally friendly. Here’s how:

Precision cutting

EPS cutters provide clean and precise cuts, which significantly reduces the amount of wasted material. Before EPS cutters, cutting EPS was a manual process that often resulted in irregularities, necessitating additional cuts and producing more waste. The precision of an EPS cutter means insulation pieces fit better and fewer pieces are discarded due to cutting errors. Crucially, cutting EPS with a saw produces a huge mess of polystyrene beads, which can be hazardous to health. A hot wire cutter removes that problem.

Customisable sizes

EPS cutters offer the flexibility to cut EPS insulation to the exact sizes needed for your specific project. This feature is particularly useful when insulating non-standard spaces or complex building designs where conventional insulation sizes may not be suitable. By having the ability to cut customised sizes, you can optimise the use of your EPS and decrease the amount of waste.

Efficient use of material

By producing precise cuts, EPS cutters enable maximum utilisation of each EPS sheet, which significantly reduces leftover material. Often, these machines are adjustable which minimises the kerf, or width of the cut. Therefore, less material is removed and wasted during the cutting process.

On-site adjustments

Having an EPS cutter on site also allows for adjustments to be made during the installation process. If a piece of insulation doesn’t fit perfectly, it is trimmed on-site, reducing the need for excess pieces and limiting the amount of waste generated.

Safety considerations

In addition to reducing waste, EPS cutters also have safety in mind. These machines often include features such as dust extraction and hot-wire cutting, which minimises the health risks associated with cutting insulation, such as respiratory problems and fire hazards.

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Spray machines

Precision and consistency

A major benefit of using spray machines for applying basecoats and renders is the level of precision and consistency they offer. These machines can deliver an even coat across large surfaces and into tight corners, which is often challenging with manual application methods. By ensuring a consistent thickness, spray machines eliminate the excess material that results from over-application, significantly reducing waste.

Speed and efficiency

Spray machines can apply basecoats and render much faster than traditional manual methods, saving valuable time on site. With quicker application times, the potential for the material to dry out or become unusable before it can be applied is minimised, thereby reducing waste. In addition, a faster application process means fewer interruptions, which can further decrease the likelihood of material waste.

Reduced material handling

Spray machines often mix the basecoat or render material right at the point of application. This feature reduces the need for extensive on-site material handling and storage, decreasing the risk of damage or contamination to the materials before use. This results in a substantial reduction in material waste compared to traditional methods.

Tailored application

With adjustable settings, spray machines can be customised to apply the precise amount of material required for a specific surface or project. This means that the exact amount of basecoat or render needed can be applied without overuse or wastage.

Recycling excess material

Some advanced spray machines have a reclamation system that can recycle excess material. This means any basecoat or render that is not applied to the surface can be collected, cleaned, and reused, further reducing waste.

Less cleanup

Finally, using a spray machine often results in less mess compared to manual methods. Less material is spilt or splattered, reducing the amount of cleanup required and, by extension, the waste produced.

Preparation is key

As with most projects, preparation ensures correct delivery. This is true in terms of reducing waste. It all begins with organising a professional site survey to assess the correct solution. Our sister company, EWI Pro, offers site surveys wherein our representatives will visit the site and recommend the type and amount of materials required. As a result, you won’t over-order materials, leading to less wastage. If the site is surveyed correctly and provisions for storage are made, the whole system materials can be ordered in bulk. As a result, the transportation costs and carbon footprint is far lower. The process of lowering embodied carbon and offsetting carbon emissions is integral to any conscious construction project.

Carbon offsetting involves compensating for the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases produced by a particular process or project. This is typically done by funding equivalent carbon dioxide-saving projects elsewhere. These offset projects could include renewable energy installations, tree planting, or energy efficiency initiatives.

For external wall insulation and render projects, carbon offsetting may involve investing in projects that absorb or prevent the emission of a quantity of CO2 equivalent to the emissions produced during the manufacture, transportation, and installation of the insulation and render materials.

Carbon offsetting
Carbon offsetting

Embodied carbon refers to the carbon emissions produced during the life cycle of a material, including its extraction, manufacturing, transportation, installation, and disposal.

In the context of external wall insulation and render projects, the embodied carbon would encompass the emissions produced from the extraction of raw materials, manufacture of insulation and render, their transportation to the construction site, the installation process, and the eventual disposal or recycling of these materials at the end of the building’s life.


How do you reduce waste on site? Let us know below!


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