Integrating the circular economy into construction waste management in NSW, Australia
The construction industry ecosystem comprises multiple actors, stakeholders, agencies, materials, processes, and even different industries. The complexity creates a unique challenge when considering the transition towards circular economy practices, as one process can involve multiple variables and actors that considerably impact the outcome. Approaches that embrace the circular economy through the supply and demand chain of the construction industry permeate through construction waste management. This study aims at understanding how circular economy principles are currently practiced through policy implementation and industry practices. It identifies critical challenges and opportunities in the transition toward circularity in construction waste management. Using a case study of the construction industry in NSW, Australia, this project aims to understand how current policies support the inclusion of circular practices and to explore the influence level of different actors’ practices. A policy review and semi-structured interviews were used as methods to identify the relevant policies and industry practices that promote circular economy principles, including any appointed responsibility to the actors involved in the construction industry. The research found that current policies lack congruency, clarity, and legislative power to promote circular economy practices or appoint responsibilities to any construction waste management industry participant. Moreover, the interchangeable use of sustainable and circular economy practices creates a challenge in the transition as the practices are not fully developed or understood under one paradigm. On the contrary, practices are being carved to fit either. Finally, the research finds considerable potential to integrate the circular economy into the construction waste management industry by transitioning actors to enablers of circular practices throughout the multiple stages of construction and development of projects.