Thirty two of the UK’s largest construction contractors have significantly decreased their construction, demolition and excavation (CD&E) waste sent to landfill, according to the WRAP’s Signatory Report 2011, published in March.

The dramatic cuts provide the first indication that signatories to WRAP’s Halving Waste to Landfill Commitment are on target to achieve a 50% reduction in waste by 2012. Over 600 organisations have signed up since its launch in 2008.

Individual company data submitted to WRAP’s Waste to Landfill Reporting Portal reveals that the leading construction contractors sent just over 3M of the 1M tonnes of waste generated to landfill in 2008.

The one-year evaluation of their waste reduction performance also shows that the contractors cut CD&E waste sent to landfill by 28% in 2009 – approximately 900,000 tonnes.

In the Construction commitments: halving waste to landfill report, WRAP also measured the amount of waste the 32 contractors sent to landfill per £ million spent on construction, including refurbishment and demolition.

The findings show that they achieved a 44% reduction from 178 tonnes in 2008 to 100 tonnes in 2009. The activity indicates that the contractors have been proactive in preventing waste from being produced in the first place.

The construction industry produces over 100M tonnes of CD&E waste every year, which equates to about one third of all UK waste. It is estimated that around 13M tonnes of waste in England ends up in landfill without any form of recovery or reuse.

In a drive to slash the huge levels of wastage, the joint government-industry Strategy for Sustainable Construction set a target in England for 50% reduction in CD&E to landfill by 2012.

WRAP’s Halving Waste to Landfill Commitment is a voluntary agreement that stimulates businesses to come up with their own solutions to reduce waste and encourages collaborative working across the entire construction supply chain.

To turn words into action, companies that sign up have to define a target for waste reduction, set a baseline to measure against and then embed the target in corporate policy. They are encouraged to register their baseline and targets with WRAP’s Waste to Landfill Reporting Portal.

This clear supply chain approach to measurement and common metrics aims to help signatories achieve a year on year improvement and generate significant cost savings.

Over 280 signatories have now registered with WRAP’s portal. The 67 contractors that have set a reporting baseline have a combined annual spend of approximately £24B. This represents a quarter of the UK construction market and includes 32 of Construction News magazine’s 2010 top 50 contractors.

Companies signed up have reduced their waste to landfill through a number of ways, including using the procurement process to set requirements for supply chains, designing out waste and recovering more waste through improved segregation.

WRAP has compiled a library of best practice case studies to illustrate how signatories are taking different approaches to reduce waste.

The Strategic Forum for Construction, which has responsibility for measuring overall industry progress towards the 2012 target, has published its own report. Its findings on the reduction of CD&E waste, based on Environment Agency and landfill tax returns data for England, are consistent with the reduction in CD&E waste sent to landfill identified bye WRAP’s Waste to Landfill Reporting Portal. The forum report notes a 13% reduction in CD&E waste to landfill from 2008 to 2009.

“Today’s Halving Waste to Landfill figures are just the beginning and give me confidence that the industry is working hard and well on track to deliver the target by 2012,” said Dr Liz Goodwin, WRAP’s CEO.

“In just over two years the Halving Waste to Landfill Commitment has gone from zero to influencing nearly £38B worth of construction projects. This demonstrates that the commitment requirements are being embedded within industry and this is delivering great results for business and the environment.”

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