Construction Commitments: Halving Waste to Landfill recently smashed through the 500th signatory mark, bringing the potential UK construction contracts to benefit from this waste reduction initiative to well over £30 billion.
Launched by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) in October 2008, Halving Waste to Landfill is an industry-wide voluntary agreement introduced to help the construction industry meet the challenges set by the Strategy for Sustainable Construction.
Recent signatories include two big names within their respective sectors and illustrate the key element of the agreement, namely engaging with the entire construction supply chain to promote collective action: Barratt Development PLC - who with 25 divisions throughout Britain are the UK’s biggest house builder by volume and Hanson UK; a leading supplier of heavy building materials to the construction industry with core products including aggregates, cement, concrete and bricks.
Said Mike Watson, Head of Construction at WRAP,
“It’s wonderful that in just over 2 years the Commitment has attracted more than 500 signatories and that this number continues to grow daily. This really illustrates the desire of the industry to work in harmony to tackle waste.”
Those signed up to this voluntary agreement, or responsibility deal, are now busily engaged in embedding the required actions into their corporate policies and implementing these actions which will help curtail the amount of waste generated and reduce the waste sent to landfill from their construction projects.
Signatories first set a baseline for waste arising against which they will endeavour to reduce their annual waste arising by whatever margin fits their circumstances. Many are utilising the WRAP online Designing out Waste guides for buildings and civil engineering projects to tackle waste at the drawing board; others will attend workshops to learn, for example, how to reduce waste through better logistics planning and management of materials on site. The key driver for minimising waste is the setting of clear procurement requirements by clients and principal contractors to engage with their supply chains to highlight waste reduction and recovery as a fundamental consideration.
John Adams, Group Procurement Director Barratt Development PLC said,
“Barratt have been working with WRAP over the last 18 months to help us build on the successful work we have previously undertaken with our suppliers such as Knauf with plasterboard and Reconomy on the segregation of construction wastes. We are seeking to develop further methods to drive additional savings in our business via the supply chain and seeking to roll out our proven initiatives on cardboard baling and pallet take-back. We look forward to working with WRAP in 2011.”
Hanson UK's Head of Sustainability Martin Crow said,
"Hanson is firmly behind the WRAP commitment to halve construction waste to landfill. Waste reduction is one of the fourteen key performance indicators we measure in our sustainability report; it is seen as a key indicator of improving efficiency and sustainable business practices. We operate a monthly reporting system that identifies operational and non-operational waste generated across the business and whether it is recycled or disposed of. Considerable efforts are made to ensure surplus materials are reused and do not become part of the waste stream. We are delighted to be part of this initiative."
The complete list of signatories covers every aspect of construction – both in the built environment and civil engineering. The diversity of businesses covers clients contractors, specialist subcontractors, designers, consultants, manufacturers, suppliers and waste management contractors. A number of Government departments are committed, as is the Scottish Government; a growing number of universities and many local authorities are following suit. There is wide-scale support from sector bodies such as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the UK Contractors Group (UKCG) and Civil Engineers Contractors Association (CECA) and many of their body members.
Outlining the path the Commitment has taken, Mike Watson explained,
“We began Halving Waste to Landfill by engaging with clients directly to illustrate the important position they have. Clients can influence their supply chain and raise the issue of construction waste to the top of a project agenda. This tactic followed research we carried out which identified that the net benefit of taking action on waste can typically save up to 1.5% of construction value on a project - with individual trade packages saving as much as 9.5%. Clients were naturally keen to harness this saving, and incorporating more sustainable environmental practices as part of the package was a natural choice for them.
“Two years on and we are now engaged with every element of the construction supply chain, working with each on resource efficiency and waste minimisation issues particular to their needs.”
The Halving Waste to Landfill programme is concerned with reducing by fifty percent the more than 15 million tonnes of Construction, Demolition and Excavation (CD&E) waste sent to landfill each year across the entire UK. All signatories need to set a baseline figure for their waste arising and work towards reducing this by whatever factor they can manage using the resources, assistance, tools and guidance provided free by WRAP.
Mike Watson commented,
“We need to view the problem of waste as one facing the entire industry, but tackle waste as best we can according to our individual ability. Small changes will make big differences. The end result for industry is less waste, both in materials and costs.”
WRAP works with each link in the supply chain, producing tailored guidance, case studies and tools specific to each sector’s needs and developed in collaboration with their sector body. Workshops have been a key strategy across the programme, but other important outputs within the first two years include:
- Two dedicated sector guides on reducing waste through design. Designing out Waste: a design team guide for Buildings and Civil Engineering each with a companion tool. These were created after in-depth collaboration with RIBA and ICE, and following consultation with industry to offer designers the opportunity to take waste out of the equation at the design stage, the point at which the most significant waste reductions can be made.
- Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP) template and a SWMP Tracker (for coordinating multiple sites) offer corporate level information in accordance with legislation.
- Procurement guidance, best practice and model wording were developed for both contractors and clients to be used to mandate waste reduction across all areas of the supply chain. This makes it easier to set clear targets that can be dropped into project briefs and procurement contracts. This helps develop policies and set targets for reducing waste to landfill that can be embedded within the corporate processes. Guidance has been developed for specific client groups such as NHS Trusts and schools trusts.
- Material Logistics Planning and Construction Consolidation Centre (CCC) guidance are part of the work WRAP has undertaken in construction logistics.
- The Utility sector has been included in this programme through its own Utility Industry Agreement put in place for gas, electricity and water companies. The Highways Agency and Thames Water are among 65 utility companies and local authorities signed to this separate agreement.
- WRAP works with businesses and individuals to help them reap the benefits of reducing waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way.
- Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk