Construction waste plans set to become compulsory

Major construction projects will need to be accompanied by detailed waste management plans under proposals published this week, as the Government tries to tackle the 109 million-tonne waste mountain created annually by the construction industry.

The new plans force construction groups in England working on projects worth more than £250,000 to produce Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP’s) predicting how much waste will be created, and how it will be recycled or disposed of responsibly. Projects worth more than £500,000 will face even higher scrutiny.

“Rising levels of waste crime are stopping us from achieving a sustainable construction sector, and rising numbers of fly-tips around the country, many of which are made up of construction and demolition waste, adversely affects the quality of life in many communities,” said Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw.

Currently, DEFRA estimates that approximately 13% of all the solid materials delivered to construction sites goes unused, and up to one third ends up in landfill. Around a third of all fly tipping includes waste from the construction, demolition and excavation sectors.

Ben Bradshaw continued: “The increasing number of construction projects up and down the country are indicative of a healthy, growing economy. But all this comes at a price.

“The UK’s construction output is the second largest in the EU. The industry uses a tremendous amount of raw materials, much of which ends up as waste.

“Each year 400 million tonnes of solid materials are used in the UK construction industry but only two-thirds is added to the building stock. The rest is sent directly to landfill.”

DEFRA’s new plans would have to be updated throughout construction, to record what actually happens to the waste.

The Government-funded WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) backed DEFRA’s proposed plans.

“We support the principle behind SWMPs and welcome the consultation on whether they should become a legal requirement and if so, how they should be regulated,” Dr Mervyn Jones, construction programme manager of waste minimisation and management at WRAP, told edie.

“SWMPs will require waste to be measured in some form and in addition to managing waste more effectively, this will [give construction companies] the ability to reduce waste levels in the first place.”

The Defra consultation closes on Monday, July 9.

Dana Gornitzki

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