Waste Management - What Happens to Your Waste? 1

Waste Management – What Happens to Your Waste?

24 January 2019

When you ring a supplier to collect the waste from your construction project, do you know what happens to it?

We begin with that question because for the sake of the environment, and your bottom line, the answer needs to be ‘yes’. If the answer is ‘no’, then you could be losing money and damaging the environment.

Site Waste Management Plans

In an effort to combat the amount of waste produced in the construction industry, the government introduced Site Waste Management Plan Regulations 2008, but these were repealed in 2013. The regulations made it compulsory for construction projects valued at more than £300,000 to create site waste management plans (“SWMPs”).

The regulations were annulled due to a challenge posed to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to reduce red tape; however, SWMPs were a valuable tool and Members of the UK Contractors Group have indicated they would still use such plans as it helped forecast waste streams and increase diversion from landfill.

In its short life, the regulations influenced the thinking of project managers and construction companies when it comes to waste by encouraging them to show greater consideration for recycling materials.

Further work must be done within the industry for waste regulations to become mandatory for projects of all sizes, not simply the ones worth above an arbitrary value.

Best Practice

If you aren’t currently utilising SWMPs then now is the time for change. Managing and recording waste on-site will considerably help streamline practices in the future and, even today, is considered best practice by multiple organisations within the construction industry.

These plans will help you gauge your waste streams from site and build up a waste management ethos amongst Project Managers. It is slowly becoming the norm when tendering for construction projects to showcase a company’s environmental credentials. SWMPs highlight such credentials and could help an organisation obtain ISO 14001. ISO 14001 focuses on managing your company’s impact on the environment, to help reduce pollution.

Many of those that agreed with the repeal of the regulations provided the minimal impact on fly-tipping, the original reason for the enactment of mandatory SWMPs, as their reason for wishing to remove the compulsory aspect of the plans.

It was possibly a mistake by the government to focus solely on projects valued at over £300,000 to enforce these plans and, if they were to be re-introduced, they should be focused on all projects.

The plans have been proven to save or reduce costs. A study conducted by WRAP one year after the introduction of the SWMPs showed that c75% of businesses saved money. Reducing waste automatically saves money, and if this is accompanied with awareness and guidance businesses could have saved even more money by simply creating, implementing, and following SWMPs.

If you can make SWMPs common practice at your construction sites and make more conscientious decisions regarding the materials you use, you will be able to simultaneously improve the environment and your bottom line.

If you have waste collection requirements, hazardous waste or not, speak to our team on 0844 288 7265. They’ll be able to get you the best possible price for collection and we aim to divert c95% of all waste away from landfill.

The Impact of Brexit

Brexit could take the UK’s construction industry further away from mandatory SWMPs. A common reason in the repeal of the 2008 regulations were the lack of enforcement. In its 5 year history, no one was prosecuted.

The repeal summary stated, “local authorities and the Environment Agency did not have sufficient resource to provide nationwide coverage for enforcement.” They also felt landfill tax remains the most effective way to keep waste out of landfill.

Not pursuing a secondary measure in the previous decade could hinder the UK as all waste targets have been set for 2020, by which time the UK should have left the EU.

For example, the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), which led to the Landfill Tax escalator, has set all members states recycling targets to be met by 2020 – 70% for non-hazardous construction.

To continue driving the growth of recycling and helping the environment, the UK government should set new targets to not fall behind other countries. If the UK develops its own criteria, it could provide a space for innovation to thrive and technology to be used in waste management.

Brexit has the potential to change the landscape of the UK waste management sector; however, it could also have no affect and we will continue as we are with new targets. That is something that will come to pass in 2019, but for now, PAL Hire is here to help you with your waste management options.

Ring our team on 0844 288 7265 to find out more.