Halve waste by 2012, construction firms told

The construction industry should halve the annual 30m tonnes of waste it sends to landfill by 2012, with major construction projects like the Thames Gateway leading the way, Government advisors have said.

Britain’s building sites consume around 400m tonnes of materials and generate 100m tonnes of waste each year, a third of which is sent to landfill. This makes the construction industry one of the biggest waste producers, responsible for a third of the UK’s total waste stream – three times as much as all UK householders combined.

Construction companies could cut costs as well as radically reducing waste by adopting ambitious waste management plans, according to the Government’s waste advisors WRAP and the Sustainability Forum, whose aim is ‘greening’ the construction industry.

“In order for the industry to improve its sustainability, we must set targets and goals for reducing waste and improving the use of resources. This goal to halve waste by 2012 is and excellent place to start, and it’s now up to the entire industry supply chain to take action, not only for the environment, but also to deliver cost and efficiency savings,” said Ian Coull, chair of the Sustainability Forum.

Some companies have already seized the opportunity to save money while earning themselves a greener image – construction giant Wates vowed to completely eliminate the need to landfill waste by 2010 (see related story).

New housing planned for the Thames Gateway alone could save 1m tonnes in waste and over £600m in material and landfill costs if it improved its waste management and re-use, the Sustainability Forum said.

The way major projects like the Thames Gateway or the 2012 Olympic regeneration are conducted could have industry-wide implications, said Jennie Price, chief executive of WRAP (the Waste and Recycling Action Plan):

“The UK’s construction industry is going to be under the spotlight over the next few years, with the 2012 Olympics and the continued development of the Thames Gateway. These are excellent opportunities to show the world what best practice can achieve, and make a substantial difference to reducing the industry’s impact on the environment.”

WRAP helps organisations cut landfill waste by reducing the amount of waste they generate, recycling what cannot be reduced, and sourcing products and materials with recycled content.

For more information see the WRAP website.

Goska Romanowicz

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie