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While climate change is rightly associated with industries like transport and agriculture, the environmental impact of other sectors often goes unnoticed as a result, including the construction industry. Dubbed “the silent sector”, building works are not only one of the largest consumers of natural resources, they also create 100 million tonnes of waste every year. 

The true cost of waste in a construction project is often underestimated. Excess builds up for a variety of reasons, including overproduction, incorrect handling and storage, and poor design. Alarmingly, plastic waste from UK construction businesses has risen by 46% in the last two years, for example. 

There is, therefore, much more that can be done to carry out proper construction waste management. In this article, we’ll identify some of the best practices to ensure your business reduces waste.

1. Plan Deliveries and storage

A big reason for excessive waste on site is inefficient stock ordering, and a failure to create a dedicated space for items so that they don’t deteriorate. Neglecting to properly store materials is also a significant factor in construction waste. For instance, if bricks are not handled carefully or cement is stored in a space where it’s exposed to sunlight, they will no longer be fit for purpose and end up unused and unusable.  

You can improve storage methods by covering objects with polypropylene (PP) bags, which will protect them from adverse weather conditions. Don’t scrimp on these though — only high quality woven PP bags will do the job properly. 

Another important fact to remember is that similar materials ought to be stored in unison — that means having a section for steel and a separate one for cement, and so on. This is to avoid degradation and cracking that occurs when reactant supplies such as alkaline and silica-based aggregates are placed together.

It is also essential to account for any recyclable or reusable supplies before work commences. A project manager should therefore outline a delivery schedule and organise storage to make sure that the construction staff have the right amount of materials — no more than what they need, and no less. Ordering errors tend to be the most frequent cause of waste. For example, failing to acquire supplies that are precise in terms of quality, size and type is a surefire way to needlessly cause waste. While it is understandable that staff want to refrain from under-ordering — as this can delay the construction process — an excess of brick or concrete mix means having to dispose of perfectly good materials.

2. Re-evaluate logistics

When trying to determine how to eliminate possible waste from the day-to-day construction process, ask yourself: what can the space accommodate, how are materials being moved around the site, and who is in charge of proper disposal?

Starting with a detailed Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) is essential to clear things up on-site. The plan should be driven by three key objectives: to improve the efficiency of resources, and therefore profitability of the project; to boost your staff’s awareness of waste management principles; and to help with the delegation of obligations.

Ensuring that the site is equipped with appropriate facilities is a priority. By placing a waste container close to all reuse and recycling receptacles, you make it easier for workers to be mindful of correct disposal.  So, evaluate how many containers and storage areas will be necessary, and where they will be positioned. Before the project has finished, plan for how any leftover scrap can be segregated and then resold or repurposed.

3. Provide Training

To guarantee that there is a basic consensus around waste management from the bottom to the top of the workforce, it’s not enough for employees to simply follow the SWMP. To counteract the many avoidable mistakes that lead to unnecessary waste, it is vital to provide adequate training procedures.

It goes without saying that each member of your workforce should be competent in this, but you must also assign a supervisor to monitor the behaviour of site staff to prevent mistakes. A designated authority on correct waste management, however, is no substitute for workers who are diligent and responsible. If workers see it in their power to reduce waste, and feel positively about doing so, they will understand the importance of complying. By making time to address the SWMP to staff and any subcontractors — beginning in the site induction process — you can give regular feedback and consistently remind workers how crucial these measures are.

4. On-site monitoring

Monitoring is a vital part of a successful waste reduction drive, making it essential to calculate recycling rates, transportation costs (you can get a quote from us here), and the amount of damaged material. For example, by using a data collection procedure to identify sources of waste produced through damage, off-cuts and inadequate storage, you can assess whether your targets are being met.

It should be noted that managing and monitoring waste streams still requires careful planning. As soon as the project is underway, the SWMP must be regularly updated when waste is taken from the site, in order to keep track of its whereabouts. Be sure to identify the type of waste collected, which company took it, and its destination. Having all waste documents to hand will mean that you can keep a detailed record of progress and procedure. Calculate the final amount and weight of the refuse, and disposal costs, as you can use these measurements to inform future projects.

At Bywaters, our experts handle various construction and demolition waste materials generated from projects of all sizes. From sole traders to large companies, we can sustainably and safely manage all forms of construction waste, including plastic, plasterboard and hazardous materials. Our state of the art facilities  sort and recover waste in line with our green initiatives. To find out more about what we can offer your business, get in contact at your nearest convenience.


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