Reduce packaging waste on your construction site

Types of packaging used on construction sites


Packaging can take the form of:

  • primary or sales packaging that protects and identifies the product
  • secondary packaging that groups or binds more than one item together
  • tertiary or transit packaging that protects the product during storage and transportation

You should be able to find opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle each type of packaging.

The purpose of construction packaging

To be able to minimise the waste packaging on your site, it is important you understand how and why packaging is used. This can help you work with suppliers to reduce packaging on their products and materials.

Packaging is used for:

  • containment - plastic bags and cardboard prevent corrosion and condensation and, with primary and secondary cardboard packaging, minimise excess moisture
  • identification - to show the product's function and to ensure health and safety issues are communicated to the user
  • impact protection and avoiding rubbing and breakage - eg shrink-wrap, cardboard or polystyrene 'slugs' are used to minimise movement during transit
  • securing products
  • ease of handling

Reusing construction packaging

If packaging is used appropriately, there is no reason why it cannot be reused repeatedly instead of being thrown away. Examples within the construction industry include:

  • timber or plasterboard pallets being taken back by suppliers so they can be reused many times
  • identifying suppliers that use sustainable forests to produce their timber, cardboard and paper packaging
  • compacting and baling paper, plastic and cardboard to allow easier handling on site and make recycling easier