The UK construction industry requires 400 million tonnes of material each year. Of that, 60 million tonnes end up going straight to the tip because materials have been over ordered or get damaged because they either aren’t stored properly or due to inappropriate ordering.

The government has a new sustainable construction strategy which is aiming for zero waste landfill by 2020. As an industry however, we also need to play a part in minimising the waste that is produced.

Have an SWMP in place

A Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) is there to estimate the waste and quantities that will be produced from your project. Once your project begins, you then have to record the way you remove your construction site waste and the quantities. Doing so means waste can be dealt with in the most effective and profitable way possible. Not only does an SWMP improve efficiency and profitability it can help to reduce fly tipping by knowing when and where everything is going.

Not only is having such a plan in place good for the environment, there are benefits to your company. You can save time by planning what to do with waste whilst also reducing your disposal costs as you’re only using what you need and incurring unexpected costs. Being able to promote your recycling figured can help to enhance your reputation and stand you in good stead to put SWMP’s in place for future projects.

Hazardous Waste

Most construction sites will have a range of waste they need to deal with, some of what can be challenging including batteries, chemicals and old equipment. Whilst most waste that needs to be removed will be classed as non-hazardous, it’s important to have a plan in place for the hazardous waste to help avoid fines and environmental damage.

It can be a common issue for construction sites being able to identify hazardous waste but it is a legal requirement. Most of the time the waste code on a product will tell you if it is hazardous or not. You can quickly tell if something is hazardous because there will be an asterisk by the productor it will be labelled with black and orange colours and danger symbols.

Material Efficiency

There is one overall option that would greatly improve all of this: material efficiency. This includes using fewer materials, reusing materials that are already there or are being stripped out and, if possible, using materials that have a high level of recycled content.

Order what you need and use what you order. Material efficiency can help eliminate over ordering and damage. Whilst is can be put into place at any stage during a project, the earlier this is done, the better and it can help to reduce the 36 million tonnes of waste that the construction industry sends to landfill sites each year.

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