Waste Management

Waste Management

3.1 Introduction

This chapter focuses on the research approach and methodology used in this study. It aims at linking the expected findings from this study with the hypothesis identified from the reviewed literature. In this regard, the research approach and methodology outlined in this chapter were to help test the hypotheses of this study and yield results that can be used to answer the research questions, which are:

  • What is the importance of a waste management procedure?
  • What are the leading factors that emphasize companies to apply waste management, and which techniques were being used?
  • What are the main factors affecting waste management implementation?
  • How can the Government affect the companies’ waste management procedures?

 The research approach used in this study was based on the methodological gaps identified in the literature that was reviewed in chapter 2. Likewise, the research approach underpinned the plan and procedure for collecting, analyzing and interpreting the data. This chapter is structures to first provide the theoretical approach deciphered from the literature review to help achieve the study aim and objectives. After that, the research approach and paradigm are outlined. Data collection strategy and method used in the study is explained, alongside data sampling techniques and sample size. Finally, the research structure will be presented.

3.2 Theoretical Approach

The theoretical approach in this study was generated from the reviewed literature in chapter 2. Nine factors or elements were found to influence effective waste management practices. These are stakeholder engagement, waste management tools and technology, design change, management commitment, governmental regulations, site conditions, waste management process, material supply, and waste management expenses. In this case, these nine elements formed the independent variables while effective waste management was the dependent variable. The relationship between the variables was formulated as hypotheses to enable testing and measurement. Ten hypotheses were generated from these variables. The hypotheses guiding this study are:

H1: Good engagement of stakeholders has positive effect on WM

H2: Stakeholder attitude effect negatively the WM implementation

H3: WM technologies and tools affect WM positively by promoting waste handling activities.

H4: Effective WM designs and plans have positive effects on waste minimization.

H5: Top level management commitment to WM effect positively on WM implementation.

H6: Strong government rules and regulations promote a positive effect on WM.

H7: Poor construction site conditions promote negative effects on WM implementation.

H8: Implementing waste process (3R’s methods) effect positively on WM.

H9: Material supplied to construction industry effects negatively on WM.

H10: High costs of WM implementation affects waste minimization negatively in construction industry.

3.3 Research Approach

Quantitative research was the approach selected for this study. This approach deals with numerical data, making the study objective because the variables and their effects are measurable and quantified (Goertzen 2017). This is unlike the qualitative approach in which unquantifiable data is collected and analyzed to yield subjective results. For a problem as critical as waste management in the Qatari construction industry, quantitative data and its analysis are critical in generating findings that can influence waste management interventions accurately and effectively. This should promote the likelihood of generating successful and effective waste management interventions, which is required for addressing the current high levels of construction waste in Qatar. In this regard, the quantitative approach has several significant advantages that are leveraged in this study.

Quantitative research approach is premised on the objective measurement of variables and the mathematical analysis of data using statistical techniques. The aim of this approach is to determine the relationship between the independent and dependent variables to establish causality (Apuke 2017). This is critical when numbers are needed to make accurate decisions and generate interventions with a high level of specificity. Therefore, the main presumption in this approach is that data is unchanging and can be verified repeatedly. This objective character of the quantitative study lends it its outstanding advantages. Firstly, the quantitative study can be replicated by other researchers, which helps in confirming the findings (Rutberg and Bouikidis 2018). This is because the methodology can be defined accurately to help understand how the study was conducted in detail. Other researchers can then confirm the findings by repeating the studies in the same exact way that they were conducted originally. This lends high reliability to quantitative studies. Secondly, the aspects related to the variables are quantifiable. This way, their effect in a phenomenon can be accurately determined, thus making comparisons of variables and their conditions objective. This means that they are devoid of the researchers influence, and therefore, less prone to biases. Thirdly, the quantitative research approach can deal with large datasets and sample sizes, which are more representative of the population. In turn, the findings from such studies can be extrapolated to the population represented by the sample. Fourthly, quantitative research enables the relationships between variables to be tested statistically, which enhance the study’s objectivity. These tests can easily be automated using computer software, simplifying data analysis. 

In this regard, waste management is an observable phenomenon that can be studied through the objective empirical investigation provided by quantitative research. The conditions that influence waste management effectiveness and efficiency can be measured and therefore, better understood when their influence and relationships are quantified numerically. In the end, the quantitative approach facilitates the development of models of waste management, which facilitate the development of effective and efficient interventions. 

3.4 Research Paradigm

This study is premised on the positivism research paradigm. This is a philosophy that guides the researcher in his or her quest to find knowledge related to a phenomenon situated in nature. It outlines the researcher’s thoughts and orientation towards generating novel and reliable knowledge, thus explaining the philosophical position of the researcher. The quantitative research approach is best anchored in the positivism philosophy, through which reality is viewed as being perceivable, factual, and objective (Park, Konge and Artino 2020). Therefore, according to this paradigm, knowledge acquisition is devoid of emotions, moral content, or values considerations in its support of objectivity (Marsonet 2019). In this regard, the researcher assumes a detached role in the study, reducing the opportunities for introducing bias and contributing to the objectivity of the study. In addition, a positivistic view of knowledge is that it originates from human experiences and perceives the world as being composed of discrete elements and events whose interaction is regular and determined. This perception is very predictable and lacks ambiguity. 

Managing the waste of construction sites requires an objective, unambiguous, and predictable approach that identifies the facts and analyses them to generate implementable interventions. The researcher’s feelings and attitudes about waste and its management should not be allowed to undermine the understanding of the challenges bedeviling waste management efforts if objective solutions are to be developed. Therefore, the researcher needs to be emotionally detached from the study for it to be objective in conduct and findings. 

3.5 Data Collection Strategy and Method

Online survey is the data collection tool selected for this study. This data collection technique was preferred because it is cost-effective and time-saving, reducing the administration burden on the researcher. Besides, it can be used to reach participants that are vastly dispersed in distance and time, making it convenient to the participant and the researcher (Ball 2019). Besides, its virtual component conforms to the public health protocols for combating the spread of Covid-19, which is responsible for the ongoing infectious disease pandemic globally. Therefore, the virtual approach supports social distancing and avoidance of unnecessary travel without compromising the data collection process and outcome. In addition, the participants were informed about the location of the survey instrument using social media and emails. This approach was convenient to the participants and researchers as it did not require face-to-face interactions at a scheduled time.

However, this approach has its limitations. Since communication was virtually conducted, employing digital technologies, the chances of messages not being seen or being ignored were high (Andrade 2020). This affected the response rate of the projected participants, lowering the participation rate of the invited respondents. However, this challenge was overcome by setting a hypothetical rate of response at 50% to accommodate the unresponsive participants. 

3.6 Data Sampling

Participants were randomly sampled from the construction sites across Qatar. The targeted population was the contract workers in construction projects across the country. They comprised project contractors and subcontractors, project managers, site construction managers, health and safety officers, and environmental engineers. However, the researcher employed an inclusion and exclusion criteria to anchor participation eligibility. The inclusion criteria include being of between 24 and 55 years old and working in the construction industry, specifically the project, environment, and safety departments, and in government agencies regulating the construction industry. In turn, the exclusion criterion was that trainee construction workers and university undergraduate students were ineligible to participate in the study because of their lack of practical knowledge and experience in waste management in construction sites. Also, researcher assistants attached to ongoing projects were also excluded to avoid conflict of interest and introduction of bias in the responses.

3.7 Sample Size

This study targeted 100 participants to respond to the survey instrument. However, since the recruitment approach used was expected to generate a high nonresponse rate, expected response rate was set at 50%, below which it would have been unacceptable (Rahi, Alnaser and Abd Ghani 2019). Therefore, the survey instrument was administered to 200 consenting individuals with the expectation that half of them would return filled questionnaires. The formula used to arrive at the projected number of participants is:

   ……Equation 1

3.7 Survey Structure

The survey instrument uses in this study was semi-structure. It comprised closed-ended and open-ended items. The closed-ended items provided options of responses from which the participant could select with providing an opportunity for open discussion or expression or thoughts and perceptions (Dalati and Gómez 2018). However, the open-ended items enabled the participants to air their opinions and discuss the issue at length, thus providing deeper insights and helping to clarify the responses from the close-ended items. The data collection instrument is attached in appendix 1.

Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Results

4.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the findings of the online survey. The findings are drawn from the responses provided by 202 participants that responded to the invitation to participate in the study and duly filled the survey data collection instrument administered online. The findings are presented in two categories. The first section details the demographics of the participants, including their age, job titles, and level of experience in waste management. The second categories captures the perceptions of the participants related to waste management practices in their organizations and other related attributes. The findings are presented in texts, tables, and figures. 

4.2 Findings on demographics of participants

4.2.1 Age of the Participants

The findings revealed that most of the 202 participants were youthful construction workers. Almost half of the participants (42.6%) were aged between 24 and 29 years, while another 25.7% were aged between 30 and 35 years, as illustrated in figure 1.

Figure 1. Distribution of age of participants

4.2.2 Job Title

Of the 202 respondents, 30.2% were project managers, 22.8 % construction site managers, 18.8% project contractors, and 14.4% environmental engineers. These results are summarized in figure 2.

Figure 2. Job title of participants

4.2.3 Level of experience in waste management

Most of the participants had a low level of experience in waste management. of the 202 participants, 35.6% had an experience of 2 years, while another 24.8 % had a waste management experience of between 3 and 5 years, as illustrated in figure 3.

Figure 3. Level of experience in waste management

4.3 Findings on perceptions about waste management practices on construction companies

4.3.1 Organizational implementation of waste management Importance of waste management

This part of the survey sought to find out whether construction companies implemented waste management. Of the 202 participants that responded to whether they found it important to have a waste management department in their companies, 28.7% strongly agreed while another 37.6% agreed that a waste management department was important in their companies. This means that a majority of the participants (66.3%) agreed with the importance of having a waste management department in their construction company, while a minority did not agree with its importance. In addition, of the 202 participants, 20.3% were not sure whether such a department was important in their firms or not, as illustrated in figure 4.

Figure 4. Waste management is important in my company Implementation of waste management in firms

The participants were then asked whether they implanted was management in their construction companies. Majority of the 202 participants (80.2%) implemented waste management while the rest (19.8%) did not. Those that answered to the affirmative (n=162) were then asked to rate the level in implantation of waste management in their construction firms. The responses revealed that three-quarters of the respondent (75.3%) found the implementation level of waste management to be strict in their companies (30.9%=very strict, 44.4% =strict) as summarized in figure 5.

Figure 5. Level of waste management implementation in the company

The respondents were then asked at what stage of the project life cycle that they implemented waste management measures. Of the 162 participants that responded to this question, 32% said that they did so at the design stage, while 19% implemented waste management measures throughout the entire project life cycle, as summarized in table 1.

Table 1. Project stage of implementing waste management

Stage of waste management implementationProportion of participants (%)
Design stage32.1
Planning stage38.3
Construction stage19.1
Throughout the project lifecycle10.5

4.3.2 Stakeholder engagement

This section of the survey sought to find out the level of stakeholder engagement in waste management. Several questions were posed to the participants, in this area. For instance, the participants were asked whether the contractors and subcontractors in their construction firms exhibited commitment to waste management practices. A majority of the 202 participants (69.3%) revealed that they agreed that their contractors and subcontractors were committed to waste management practices in their firms. These findings are summarized in figure 6.

Figure 6. Sentiments about the level of commitment to waste management by contractors and subcontractors

The participants were then asked whether they felt that the contractors’ attitude affected the implementation of waste management in their construction forms. A majority of the 202 participants (62.9%) felt that the contractors’ attitude influenced the implementation of waste management in construction sites, with 24.8% agreeing strongly and 38.1% agreeing. These responses are summarized in figure 7. Similarly, out of the 202 participants, 58.4% agreed that the cooperation and teamwork among subcontractors engaged by their construction companies enhanced waste reduction, as illustrated in figure 8. However another 23.8% of the participants were not sure whether such cooperation and teamwork had any effect in promoting waste reduction. 

Figure 7. Contactor’s attitude affects the implementation of waste management

Figure 8. Subcontractors’ cooperation and teamwork enhanced waste reduction

In addition, the study sought to find out whether the construction companies provided waste management manuals to the engineers and contractors. Out of the 202 respondents, over half of them (55.9%) agreed that their companies provided such manuals, while 26.2% were not sure, as illustrated in figure 9. Clients were another stakeholder targeted by the survey. Their support for waste management practice was sought. Out of the 202 participants that responded, 54.0% agreed that waste management practice received the clients’ support while 25.2% were not sure, as captured in table 2. Similarly, of the 202 participants, 58.4% agreed that their construction companies engaged the Ministry of Environment in Qatar during the project life cycle, while 23.8% were not sure about such engagement. These findings are captured in figure 9.

Table 2. Clients supported waste management practice

Clients supported waste management practiceProportion of respondents (%)
Strongly agreed22.3
Strongly disagreed 10.9

Figure 9. Construction companies engage the Ministry of Environment

4.3.3 Waste Management Tools and Technology

This part of the survey enquired the state of waste management tools and technology in construction companies. For instance, it sought to find out about the use of waste management software. Of the 202 respondents, 20.8% strongly agreed strongly and 33.7% agreed that their companies used a software program to plan waste management activities at the construction site. Similarly, 22.8% strongly agreed and 31.2% agreed that their companies used waste management technologies that promote the reuse and recycling of waste materials at the construction site. Likewise, when asked whether they agreed that waste management tools and innovations, such as prefabrication, formworks, and low-waste structures could promote less waste in the construction industry, a majority of the 202 participants (57.5) agreed that they did while 26.2% were not sure. These findings are summarized in table 3.

Table 3. Waste management tools and technology

 Strongly agreeAgreeNeutralDisagreeStrongly disagree
Company uses a software program to plan waste management activities20.8%33.7%23.3%14.4%7.9%
Company uses waste management technologies that promote reuse and recycling of waste materials22.8%31.2%21.8%15.3%8.9%
Do you agree that WM tools and innovations, such as prefabrication, formwork, and low-waste structure, can promote less waste in the construction industry22.8%34.7%26.2%8.9%7.4%

4.3.4 Design Change

This section of the survey sought to find out the perceptions about waste management regarding construction design. The participants were asked whether their companies included waste management plans in their construction design. Of the 202 respondents, 24.8% strongly agreed and 37.6% agreed, while 21.3% were not sure, as illustrated in figure 10. In the same vein, when asked whether these plans were followed during the construction phase, out of the 202 participants, 28.2 strongly agreed, 34.7% agreed, and 20.8% were not sure. These responses are captured in figure 11.

Figure 10. Company includes waste management plans in the construction design

Figure 11. Waste management plans are followed duign construction

When asked whether the project members and contractors’ employees were involved in the design analysis related to waste management, of the 202 respondents, 54.0% of them agreed about such involvement while 22.3% were not sure, as illustrated in figure 12. Also, 53.0% agreed that poor market analysis could cause waste management design changes during the construction process while 27.7% were not sure, as summarized in figure 13. 

Figure 12. Project and contractor members are involved in the design analysis

Figure 13. Poor market analysis can cause changes with waste management design

4.3.5 Management Commitment

This section of the survey sought to establish the management’s commitment towards waste management. When asked whether the construction companies provided waste management resources to help reduce waster production in the construction projects, 61.4% of the 202 participants agreed while 18% did not agree, as illustrated in figure 14.

Figure 14. Management provided waste management resources for waste reduction

Similarly, 66.4% of the participants agreed that their company’s management created waste management rules and communication plans with the waste management workers to help them understand the required waste management standards. Of the 202 participants, 21.3% were not sure, while the rest disagreed. Similarly, when asked whether adopting a transparent environmental policy and reporting by the management of the construction company enhanced waste management, half of the 202 participants (50.0%) agreed that it did while 33.2% were noncommittal. Likewise, when asked whether they agree that the management of the construction company should focus on changing the attitudes of the stakeholders regarding waste management implementation to ensure its success, 58.4% of the 202 respondents agreed while 26.2% remained neutral. 

4.3.6 Government Regulations

Although most of the 202 participants (56.9%) agreed that the Qatari government had a system of enforcing waste management rules, about half of them (51.0%) felt that the current rules and regulations of the Environment Ministry required some improvement to reduce construction waste. These findings are summarized in figures 14 and 15.

Figure 14. Qatari government had a system of enforcing waste management rules and regulations

Figure 15. Current Environment Ministry’s rules and regulations required some improvement

4.3.7 Site Condition

Although 43.5% of the 202 participants agreed that their companies encouraged organizing contaminated wastes to facilitate efficient waste reduction, 48.5% agreed that contractors avoided implementing waste management because of environmental risk associated with chemical and hazardous materials. These findings are illustrated in figures 16 and 17.

Figure 16. Companies encouraged organizing of contaminated wastes and contractors avoided implementing waste management

Key:    Series 1: Companies encouraged organizing of contaminated wastes

            Series 2: contractors avoided implementing waste management

4.3.8 Waste Management Process

Most of the 202 participants agreed that their companies waste reduction (53.5%), waste reuse (57.9%), and waste recycling (53.0%) as part of their waste management techniques as summarized in figure 17.

Figure 17. Companies implemented the waste reduction, reuse, and recycling systems

Key:    Series 1: Companies implemented waste reduction process

            Series 2: Companies implemented waste reuse process

            Series 3: Companies implemented waste recycling process

4.3.9 Material Supply

Most of the 202 participants (63.3%) agreed that their companies considered the type of materials used in the construction site to reduce waste. Another 55.9% agreed that proper material selection helped improve the waste management process in a construction site, while 60.9% agreed that promoting prefabrication materials and methods could enhance waste management in a construction site. These findings are summarized in figure 18.

Figure 18. Type of materials, material selection, and promoting prefabrication materials

Key:    Series 1: Consideration of type of materials

            Series 2: Proper material selection

            Series 3: Promoting prefabrication materials and methods

4.3.10 Waste Management Expense

Over half of the 202 participants agreed that the high cost of transportation of waste materials, waste management materials, processing machines, and hiring waste management personnel limited waste management practices in a construction site. These finding are summarized in figure 19. However, over half of the 202 participants (59.5%) agreed that increasing the landfill charges was an effective strategy of enhancing waste management in construction sites, as illustrated in figure 20.

Figure 19 Limiting effects of high costs in waste management practices

Key:    Series 1: High cost of transporting waste materials

            Series 2: High cost of waste management materials

            Series 3: High cost of processing machines

            Series 4: High cost of hiring waste management personnel

Figure 20. Increasing landfill charges as a waste management enhancement strategy

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