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Environmental Impacts of Construction and Demolition Waste Management Alternatives

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Construction and demolition waste (C&DW) arises mainly as by-products of rapid urbanisation activities. C&DW materials have high potential for recycling and reusing. Despite its potential, landfilling is still the most common disposal method. In Malaysia, C&DW practices are principally guided by economic incentives such as low disposal cost or inexpensive virgin material outweighing recycling cost resulting in low recycling rate. The purpose of this study is to access the environmental impacts caused by landfilling and the alternatives especially in assessing the damages to human health, ecosystems, and to the resources in the future 10 y. It aims to identify the better alternatives in reducing the environmental impacts of landfilling C&DW. Life cycle assessment (LCA) used in this study assessed the environmental impacts associated with all stages, from waste production to end-of-life of waste material. LCA can help to avoid the shortsighted , quick-fix landfilling as the main solution for C&DW by systematically compiling an inventory of energy, fuel, material inputs, and environmental outputs. The environmental impact of landfilling C&DW is estimated to increase 20.2 % if the business as usual (BaU) landfilling continues to the year 2025. Recycling will reduce 46.0 % of total damages and with the shorter travel distance, the environmental damage is further reduced by 82.3 %. Applying industrial building system (IBS) to reduce waste generation at-site reduced 98.1 % impacts as compared to landfilling scenario. The negative impacts derived from landfilling activity is significantly reduced by 99.5 % (scenario 8) through shifting to IBS, recycling, and shorter the travel distance from construction sites to material recycling facilities (MRF). The what-if scenarios illustrated the alternatives future circumstances, the inclusion of the uncertainty concept, and define the future path of C&DW industry outlook. The outcome of this study is informative and useful to policymakers, particularly in defining the way forward of C&DW industry in Malaysia.
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