Journal of Environmental Protection, 2011, 2, 124-129
doi:10.4236/jep.2011.22014 Published Online April 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JEP
Polluter-Pays Principle Applied to Construction
and Demolition Debris
Manfred Fehr1, Rogério Borges Marques2, Alessandra Fernandes Nascimento Pereira3
Institute of Geography, Federal University at Uberlândia, Uberlândia, Brazil.
Received October 21st, 2010; revised November 21st, 2010; accepted December 28th, 2010.
The research focused on the analysis o f constructio n and de molition debris in a samp le Brazilian city with the objective
to propose a management scheme tailored to private initiative intervention. The debris was found to be produced at a
rate of 1.55 kg per person per day for a total of 5177 tons per month. The composition report showed 75% material
reusable for construction purposes, 15% material recyclable through reverse logistics and 10% refuse to be disposed of
at landfills. The study developed legal and managerial instruments that stimulate private operators to achieve landfill
diversions in the order of 90% of this waste. The arguments were supported by a flow diagram that indicates the correct
destination of all waste items and an economic balance of private waste movement. Proactive legal scriptures were
sketched out that can assist the local administration in setting the timeframe for reach ing th e diversion target.
Keywords: Brazil, Construction and Demolition Waste, Landfill Diversion, Private Waste Enterprise, Proactive
Legislation, Reverse Logistics, Waste Management, Waste Market
1. Introduction
The Johannesburg Summit of 2002 defined the sanitation
target as follows: halve by 2015 the proportion of people
without access to proper sanitation [1]. The practical re-
sults of international ag reements such as this one depend
on the ability of national and local administrations to
provide the necessary legal framework for implementa-
tion. This is the fundamental argument of the present
study. It proposes to create thinking models that face the
future at local levels through proactive legislation. Apart
from supporting the directives passed down by the Jo-
hannesburg Summit and possible future similar events,
proactive laws go beyond compliance. Th ey are dynamic
instruments, which contain provisions for constant up-
dating and take into account changing social and envi-
ronmental situations such as population growth and re-
source limitations. The arguments are applied specifi-
cally to construction debris, with the declared objective
to reduce landfill space.
Sustainable urban development is advocated in Brazil
by the Law of the Cities, which obliges municipal ad-
ministrations to edit and apply directives for the protec-
tion of the environment [2]. Part of this obligation refers
to the correct treatment and disposal of solid waste in-
cluding construction and demolition debris (CDD). A
report by Azevedo et al. [3] describes the problems en-
countered with CDD in the City of Salvador, Brazil and
identifies some basic management strategies. The argu-
ment relies on source separation of all CDD followed by
correct destination of all components. The shortcoming
in this, as in many other proposals analyzed by the au-
thors, resides in the absence of legal measures to make
the source separation mandatory and of a practical model
for debris movement and treatment that includes private
initiatives. This is not an exclusively Brazilian problem.
Other countries and regions experience the same type of
challenge. Examples of legislation pertaining to CDD
may be found in the USA [4], in N ew Zealand [5] and in
Europe [6]. Proactive legal scriptures have been used by
various government bodies in various parts of the world
The present study assimilates all those experiences and
develops proactive waste management strategies for the
Brazilian context, based on data collected in a sample
town. Starting from present practice of tipping all debris
at a dumpsite provided and operated by the municipal
administration, the declared objective is to divert up to
90% of construction debris from the landfill within a
timeframe to be established by the local administration.
The private sector is empowered to run the waste move-
Polluter-Pays Principle Applied to Construction and Demolition Debris125
ment, and proactive legislation is proposed to provide
administrative and economic support.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. International Directives and Local
Specifically referring to agreements on sanitation, it can
be argued that international agreements such as the Jo-
hannesburg Summit directives do not provide support to
local administrations when it comes to solving problems
related to resource depletion and sustainability. The ex-
ample of sanitation leads to an argument in favor of pro-
active over reactive legislation. The strict implementation
of the Summit directive not only increases the trash col-
lection service, but also increases the landfill space re-
quired to tip this additional trash. The directive did not
mention this detail and left local administrators unpre-
pared for the hidden requirement. There may exist a po-
litical and administrative vacuum between a Summit di-
rective and a local administrator’s real challenges. This
also demonstrates the vital need for proactive attitudes
translated into proactive legal frameworks. Local admin-
istrators need new thinking models, and the idea of pro-
active legislation is one of them.
2.2. Local Diagnosis and Experimental
Procedure for Construction Debris
The municipality studied with respect to this topic occu-
pies an area of 2732 km2, of which 74 km2 are within the
urban perimeter. The elevation above sea level is 950 m.
The population count is 109 876 according to the 2006
census with an estimated annual growth rate of 1.24 per
cent. The average demographical density is 40 inhabi-
tants per km2.
The city does not presently have a plan for integrated
management of CDD. The Brazilian National Environ-
mental Council (Portuguese acronym CONAMA) regu-
lated the handling practices of this material in 2002
through Resolution 307 [20], but this directive has not
yet been implemented in the city. As a consequence,
CDD is still collected at assigned locations throughout
the city and taken to the CDD dump site.
The cited resolution classifies CDD into four catego-
ries, namely A, B, C and D. The definitions are as fol-
Category A: Debris that can be reused or recycled as
aggregates for construction. Examples: ceramic compo-
nents, bricks, concrete, shingles, plasterboard.
Category B: Debris that can be recycled for uses other
than in construction.
Examples: plastics, metals, cardboard, glass, wood.
Category C: Debris for which no recycling technolo-
gies are available.
Examples: gypsum and related material.
Category D: Hazardous or contaminated material.
Examples: thinners, solven ts, oil, paint.
Some variants of this list have been proposed in the
literature [21-23]. The CDD in the sample city is pres-
ently deposited at three decentralized collection points
and at one CDD dumpsite designated by the administra-
tion, as well as at 20 irregular localities made up of un-
used urban land parcels. This research identified all the
deposit points, measured the total quantity deposited and
the CDD composition. The decentralized collection
points are intended for reception of volumes not exceed-
ing two cubic meters from small domestic construction
sites. The CDD dumpsite receives all larger volumes
originating from the various construction companies ac-
tive in the city. At present, no control is exercised over
the irregular points of disposal throu ghout the city. These
points are accessible to small haulers simply because
they are not fenced or supervised.
The decentralized collection points were created by the
administration in order to serve small residential con-
structors in the vicinity and to reduce the amount of ir-
regular deposits around town. As those areas are not
fenced and not attended to by paid personnel, no control
is exerted over the type of material deposited. At regular
intervals, the city administration clears the lots and
transports the material to the CDD dumpsite.
The CDD dumpsite is an open pit created by natural
erosion that is tacitly used by the administration as final
destination of all CDD. There are special vehicles to
move the received material into the pit, but there is no
sorting or classification of arriving lots. As a conse-
quence, apart from the real rubble, other items are depos-
ited, such as furniture, household waste, garden trim-
mings, tires and plastic packaging of all kinds.
3. Results and Discussion
The model of debris movement described above is unsat-
isfactory as it causes traffic obstructions and odors, and
deteriorates the landscape. The city administration does
not have the means to effectively manage the deposit
sites. The experimental analysis consisted of sampling
the contents of trucks arriving at the central dumpsite,
loaded with material collected at the decentralized col-
lection points. The results were as follows.
Rate of deposit 5 177 tons/month (obtained from the
reports maintained at the gate of the site)
Apparent density of dumped material: 1.2 tons per m3
(measured b y sampli ng)
Composition of total material (obtained by sampling)
category A material 75%
category B material 15%
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JEP
Polluter-Pays Principle Applied to Construction and Demolition Debris
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JEP
category C + D material 7%
biodegradable items 3%
Composition of category A material (obtained by
sampling, 3 883 tons/month) concrete 35%
ceramics 30%
plasterboard 26%
sand 9%.
In response to the diagnosis, the objective of the study
required to construct a management model to efficiently
handle the 5 177 tons per months of construction and
demolition debris in the city All type A and type B mate-
rial is considered potentially recyclable, such that the
management model faces the challenge of diverting from
the dumpsite 4 659 tons/month (90%) of material within
a timeframe yet to be established by the administratio n.
The standard procedure proposed to the municipalities
by the National Environmental Council was analyzed. It
consists of a manual for CDD management at the local
level and an outline fo r a municipal bylaw on the subject
[24]. The proposed bylaw makes a distinction between
small and large volumes of CDD to be taken care of,
defined as deposited volumes of more or less than 2.0 m3.
The standard procedure asks for the following provisions
by the municipal administration: establishment of net-
works of receiving points for small and for large volumes
throughout the city; existence of a free telephone service
by which residents may schedule waste pick-up for small
volumes with the municipal administration; creation of a
permanent sector for CDD management within the ad-
ministration; effective supervision of all receiving points;
environmental education programs directed to the popu-
lation involved in CDD generation.
According to the document, the receiving points for
small volumes have to be fenced, have to provide for
separation of incoming waste into classes A, B, C and D,
and have to keep records of quantities manipulated. All
transfers of material from the receiving points to the
CDD landfill are to be the responsibility of the public
administration and are to be accompanied by transporta-
tion control sheets with three copies: for the producer, for
the transporter and for the receiver. This entire service is
to be provided free of charge by the municipal admini-
stration. Implicit in the requirements is the presence of
public servants at all receiving points with the corre-
sponding sanitary infrastructure and labor costs, and the
landfill is to be operated by the municipal administration
with tax money. As can be appreciated, the Council did
not worry about the cost of this system to the taxpayer.
Neither did it explain why all taxpayers should carry the
onus of a system that only serves those who really con-
In view of this questionable procedure, the authors de-
cided against its recommendation to the city administra-
tors. Instead, they developed a second option more real-
istic in terms of cost distribution and operating efficiency.
The fundamental argument behind this new proposal is
that private constructors produce the debris and have to
carry the onus of disposal. The function of the municipal
administration is to regulate, to supervise and to create
the right incentives for private initiative, but not to run
the system with taxpayers’ funds. The term “disposal”
has to be redefined. The lan dfill is no longer an adequate
place for deposit of CDD waste. Technology exists for
reintegration of class A and B waste into the production
chain. The management model needs to address it and
stimulate recycling practices within the city. The tradi-
tional thinking model, which states that all services are
provided free of charge by the public administration, has
no place in a sustainable society. The collection and re-
cycling operations have to be run as a business supported
by private enterprise.
Figure 1 shows the flow of material in the new model,
and Table 1 relates the cost and income distribution at
various points in the system.
small scale projects
odd volumes
small scale projects large sc a l e p rojects
cent ral reception district for large
waste treatment plant (5)
str eet clean ing
muni cipal landfill
1 – Transport of small volumes by private haulers; 2 – Transport of large volumes by authorized enterprises; 3 – Class B residues; 4 – Class C
and D residues; 5 – Class A residues.
Figure 1. Material flow diagram of proposed model.
Polluter-Pays Principle Applied to Construction and Demolition Debris127
Table 1. Economical balance for private waste handling model.
Income items Cost items
Deposit fee at small volume reception. Maintenance of small volume areas.
Deposit fee at central large volume reception district. Transport from small volume reception to large volume district.
Sale of class B residues to wholesalers. Transport of class C and D residues to landfill.
Sale of recycled class A residues to construction projects. Operation of central large volume reception district and waste
Sale of recycled material to public construction programs. Deposit fee at municipal landfill.
The functionality of th is model will be explained now.
The final destination of collected residues received at any
of the receiving stations is the treatment plant for type A
residues, the municipal landfill for type C and D residues,
and the reverse logistics chain for type B residues. All
residues pass through the central reception district where
they are separated and their destination is decided upon.
The whole system is operated by a private contractor and
has to be financially self-sustaining. Table 1 indicates
where the revenues will come from. It also shows where
expenditures occur. The municipal administration does
not interfere, except that it does buy recycled type A ma-
terial for public works construction. This item may be
negotiated with the system operator as a percentage of
total recycled quantity. The emphasis is on percentage.
No absolute amount of purchases should be committed to,
as this would remove the stimulus for maximum recycle.
All the receiving stations for small volumes are included
in the enterprise, such that their transportation items in-
dicated by arrows on Figure 1 are also part of the enter-
prise, but may also be subcontracted at will. Referring to
Table 1, it is clear that the enterprise has to adjust the
receiving fees at the various stations to values that will
support the system. It will also have to pay the tipping
fee at the municipal landfill. This is an important stimu-
lation for the contractor to maintain a high level of recycle.
All small and large construction and demolition op-
erators have to pay the reception fee at the receiving sta-
tions. This is the main new thinking model to be indoc-
trinated to the community. Heretofore people were used
to discard their debris free of charge. The municipal by-
law, which will legally support the model, will have to
insist on high fines for clandestine deposits in order to
discourage them. The transportation of small volumes to
the receiving stations is the responsibility of the rubble
producers. Large construction companies have to haul
their debris to the central reception district where they
pay the deposit fee. This central district is the heart of the
model. It is at this point that all received material is
separated and forward ed to its respective destination.
The number of small volume reception stations (odd
volumes on Figure 1) in the city will be decided by the
contractor and negotiated with the municipal administra-
tion who may rent publicly owned land for this applica-
The market is expected to take care of operating de-
tails in the system such as the equipment and manpower
available at the receiving stations and the intensity of the
sorting procedure. The municipal bylaw will set the
boundary conditions such as landscaping aspects of the
stations, fencing and traffic around them. The contract of
the system’s operator with the municipal administration
will set the boundary conditions for the functioning pa-
rameters such as capacity adjustments as required and the
disclosure of balance sheets to justify the receiving fees.
This is a new model, which to the authors’ knowledge
has not yet been experimented with in Brazil. It has been
proposed to the municipal administration of the city
studied as a precedent for testing. The corresponding
bylaw will have to be proactive in the sense that it needs
to require constant updating of the management model as
experience accumulates. The important fact is that the
taxpayer has been relieved from the necessity to support
construction and demolition waste handling in town. The
municipal tax burden on citizens has been reduce d.
The present study, through the analysis of natio nal and
municipal legislation on MSW and considering the ex-
amples of public participation mention ed in th e literature,
develops and propo ses for public scru tin y a proactiv e law
meant to effectively support waste management in the
municipal context. The distinguishing features of this law
are explained and discussed, and the desired effect on the
municipal situation is set out in terms of new concepts
about waste and a new sense of social responsib ility. The
municipal administration and the local legal community
are provided with the new philosophy of proactive in-
struments that will support the implementation of inter-
national agreements in th e local context.
The proactive law introduces a new vocabulary meant
to help change outdated thinking models. The words
waste and garbag e are substituted by proactive expres-
sions such as transit material and recovered resources.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JEP
Polluter-Pays Principle Applied to Construction and Demolition Debris
3.1. Sketch of a Proactive Municipal Law for
For the sake of argument, it is not deemed necessary to
copy the complete text of the law here. On ly the original
proactive items not usually found in reactive legislation
are listed.
The purpose. The law establishes directives for CDD
management in the city. All prior legislatio n on this mat-
ter looses its validity.
The principles. Sustainability. In an attempt to close
product life cycles, increasing amounts of material are to
be diverted from the landfill, and progressive diversion
targets are to be set and communicated.
Information. Pertinent information on reverse logistics
and annual progress of landfill diversion is to be dis-
seminated among the population.
Participation. The waste movement is to be placed into
the hands of private initiative. The city administration
approves fee structures and operating procedures.
Target. The targeted annual reduction of tipped mate-
rial is to be established by the administration and made
public. The final diversion target is a fun ction of existing
recycling technolog ies.
The definitions. Proactive law. Stimulates and per-
petuates sustainable habits and management practices
with respect to CDD.
CDD. All residues discarded by residential or institu-
tional construction sites. They consist of category A, B,
C and D components. Biodegradable components are to
be kept out o f CDD.
CDD producer. Resident or constructor who produces
CDD and who is intrinsically responsible for its correct
handling an d destination.
The directives. Diagnosis. The municipal administra-
tion is to proceed with regular analyses of quantity and
quality of all collected CDD material.
Technology. The municipal administration is to ask for
the application of the most recent technology and man-
agement methods to the CDD program and to involve all
talents existing in the community, especially the con-
struction industry.
Transparency. All aspects of CDD management and
progress made in reaching the targ ets are to be con stantly
Education. Each citizen is to know exactly his or her
responsibilities within the CDD management model of
the city. All employees involved in the reverse logistics
chain are to be trained by their employers, professionally
motivated and respected.
Destinations. They are to be clearly indicated by the
municipal administration for each of the CDD compo-
nents such that residents and constructors are aware of
the end result of their separation effort. All CDD com-
ponents are to be put at the disposal of retailers and
wholesalers with minimal intervention of the municipal
administration and with minimal use of public funds.
Funding. The municipal CDD processing model is to
provide for the efficient inclusion of all existing private
initiatives in the reverse logistics chain such that the use
of public funds is minimized. Public expenditures are to
be applied to educational aspects and result reporting,
and not to materials handling prop er.
The duties and responsibilities. Municipal admini-
stration. It is responsible for disclosing its CDD man-
agement model, which compulsorily contains separation
and divided processing of CDD components. It emits
annual reports on the progress of landfill diversion. It
sees to it that landfill construction and operation is ap-
proved and supervised by competent professionals.
Residents and constructors. They are responsible for
source separation of all CDD.
Concessionaires. They operate the waste handling and
recycling facilities under contract with the city admini-
stration and disclose balance sheets to justify the fee
The updating. The municipal legislative body is to
revise and update this law every five years and immedi-
ately publish the new version.
4. Conclusions
The general problem of local application of international
environmental agreements has been analyzed.
Conceptual gaps have been identified between interna-
tional directives and real world situations at the local
Specific proactive legal instruments have been pro-
posed to close those gaps.
Proactive legislation reaches forward in time and pro-
motes paradigm jumps.
The municipal situation with respect to construction
and demolition waste has been described and quantified
in the city under study.
The standard management procedure for construction
waste suggested by the National Environmental Council
has been analyzed and found unfit for sustainable waste
management. Its shortcoming is the unrestricted financial
burden it places on the municipal taxpayer.
A new management model has been developed, de-
scribed and proposed that turns the construction waste
handling procedure over to private enterprise. The mu-
nicipal administration will only in spect and supervise the
waste movement.
The new model is daring in as much as it forces the
application of business principles to the whole construc-
tion and demolition waste handling process. It allows for
the establishment of a fee structure in the system in order
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JEP
Polluter-Pays Principle Applied to Construction and Demolition Debris
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JEP
to make the enterprise self-sustaining.
To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time such a
model is being considered for implementation in a Bra-
zilian municipality.
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