Construction companies told to check enviro-site

Businesses working in the construction sector are being told to take part in an online questionnaire to discover if they are aware of their environmental responsibilities - and if they are meeting them.

NetRegs, an online resource for small businesses run by the Environment Agency and SEPA, has launched a tool to test whether firms are complying with environmental legislation.

The sorting out site waste tool has been developed in response to a survey conducted by NetRegs which found that although there have been slight improvements, the levels of environmental awareness in smaller construction companies are worryingly low.

The survey revealed the vast majority of UK construction businesses (85%) did not think that they undertook activities that could cause harm to the environment.

However, when prompted with a list of activities that are potentially harmful to the environment, 39% stated they undertook at least one of them. The most common were producing or importing packaging (41%) and storing waste (33%).

Furthermore, just over half of the businesses surveyed admitted they hadn’t introduced any practical measures to reduce environmental harm, and of the 44% that had, just 17% had undertaken a waste minimisation exercise.

The research also identified that, when prompted; only a quarter of businesses could name a piece of environmental legislation.

Alan Parnell, NetRegs advisor at SEPA said: “By better understanding what constitutes waste, by taking the correct steps to improve environmental practice, construction businesses can avoid prosecution and could benefit commercially.

“Good environmental practice is good business practice and can improve customer relations. Many larger companies and local councils may ask for Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP) in tenders.

“Waste materials produced by business or within the workplace are already regulated by law through Duty of Care requirements. It is important that construction businesses understand their legal obligations with regard to the management and handling of site waste.”

Sam Bond

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