Site Waste Management Plans - 5 Ways to Reduce Waste

Site Waste Management Plans and 5 Ways to Reduce Your Construction Waste

It is a fact that clients and construction firms are finally waking up to waste planning. It makes good sense commercially due to escalating waste disposal costs, tighter legislation on landfill operators, and increasing pressure from both existing and potential clients to demonstrate positive environmental credentials. [Page published in 2009.]


This process is long overdue for the construction industry, to bring it into-line with the amount of effort being put elsewhere in all businesses, to:-

  • minimize and avoid waste

  • re-use what would otherwise become waste

  • and recycle.

The incentive for construction firms to address site waste has never been greater, and yet progress was still extremely slow, so the UK Government (in England only initially) implemented a compulsory regulation in April 2008 to require all construction projects of value over £300,000 to be provided with a Site Waste Management Plan.

Since then many of the construction industry's big players have announced that they will voluntarily reduce their waste by 50%.

This is a big and ambitious target and will need a correspondingly large effort in devising many substantial ways to achieve the promised savings in waste generated.

The Construction Industry is improving its ability to achieve materials recovery in the way that MRFs (Materials Recovery facilities) like this one are improving recycling rates for our household waste.
The Construction Industry is improving its ability to achieve materials recovery in the way that MRFs (Materials Recovery facilities) like this one are improving recycling rates for our household waste.

The 5 Top Ways to Reduce Construction Waste

Here are my favorite ways to Reduce Construction Waste:-

1. Waste Reduction 1 - Train Employees and Subcontractors in the Reasons for Operating Sustainably

At the most basic level this is essential as just about everyone within an organisation throws away materials at some time. So, careful sorting and segregation of materials into the right skips by the majority, can easily be sabotaged by an uncaring minority of individuals throwing materials carelessly into the wrong skips.

At higher levels within the organisation the designers, managers and project planners will all need to show commitment to waste avoidance and reduction. This will not happen unless they understand and become committed to the underlying principles of sustainability.

So knowledge and commitment are essential pre-requisites for continued high performance in waste reduction.

2. Waste Reduction 2 - Only Use Suppliers which will Accept Back Your Unused Materials

This first tip is so simple that it is incredible that it has not being done routinely by most contractors already.

Change your company policy to only work with suppliers that will take back surplus supplies. One example is that builders will order in bulk and not uncommonly order in batches of 20,000 bricks and firstly not use all of them. Then to make matters worse the left-over bricks most often get thrown into a skip and landfilled, or just buried on site.

Make it a requirement that you will not do business unless each of your suppliers will take back unused materials, you may not be paid for the returned goods, or if you are you may be at best given a very small sum, but it remains preferable in terms of sustainability to return these materials in any event. With landfill site costs as they are, for much of the time this will also make commercial sense as well.

3. Waste Reduction 3 - Use Excess Earthworks Materials to Contour and Landscape your Sites

This has already seen a large take up and when done well and landscaped with sensitivity the recontoured site becomes an asset to the project. Bunds can provide for screening and for private spaces, provide sound attenuation and on accasions even be used to hold back stormwater to minimise flooding potential in heavy storms.

The amount of material which may be used in this way may be severely limited on congested inner city sites, but remains worth doing wherever possible.

4. Waste Minimisation 4 - Use a Site Crusher to Reprocess Existing Concrete and Stone on Site for use in New Site Structures

Using site crushing plant to reprocess existing demolished site materials to re-use them again on-site is also becoming increasingly popular. It gives obvious environmental advantages over landfilling that material, and avoids the need to quarry fresh materials and transport them to the site for the new structure.

Again, such measures can also bring simultaneous cost savings.

5. Waste Reduction 5 - Think Creatively

This clearly needs to start with the designer, but can be much enhanced by a sensitive contractor in its implementation.

Examples would be the re-use a loved building facade, or other features from the original building. Cleaning off bricks and roof tiles, and re-using them as a feature to place in new walls to add character and perceived building value would be another example.


However the savings are achieved, it is important to ensure that the company's waste management scheme takes on board the principles of the waste hierarchy. Good site waste management planning will always have this at its heart.

This is a concept which identifies possible waste disposal options, ranking them in order of environmental impact. This exercise prioritizes the prevention and re-use of waste and ensures compliance with sustainability requirements.

Your Chance to Learn More About Waste Management!

Learn More About Waste Facilities of which the MRF described here is just one of many, in the "Introduction to Waste Technologies eBook". Click the link below for more information.
Learn More About Waste Facilities of which the MRF described here is just one of many, in the "Introduction to Waste Technologies eBook". Click the link below for more information. | Source

Comments 11 comments

First_home_buyer profile image

First_home_buyer 8 years ago

Great Hub. There is so much waste in the building industry. With the price of everyting going up rapidly, that will likely change soon. Thanks for the info.

prophet25 profile image

prophet25 8 years ago

This is definitely important, given the focus on going green nowadays. In Singapore, I think construction companies are given some incentives for reusing stuff.

BlueSkyBright profile image

BlueSkyBright 8 years ago

Go green and eliminate the waste for good!

BanjDog profile image

BanjDog 8 years ago from Travel Around

I agree - it is time the building industry got it's act together when it comes to reducing waste.

And builder's merchants must start to take back unused materials - it is disgusting the things that are thrown in the waste that are perfectly good. If we all ask that the merchants take back unused items they will have to start to do it.

dinahschierer profile image

dinahschierer 8 years ago from Orlando, Fl

Great page. The building industry should really join in with this new 'going green' trend. With so much extra waste of left over materials you would think they could easily find someone to take it off their hands.

GreatGoji profile image

GreatGoji 8 years ago

This is a topic that many of the people tend to ignore... Little do they know that this is something that should be attended to... Reducing waste is really needed especially in these times that we are experiencing global warming.

teamplayer1906 8 years ago

What a great hub! It is not a very publicized topic. I recently visited a new sub-division that focused on Green Construction. Thanks for sharing this information.

scheng1 6 years ago

Wasting time is also a common fault in construction. Sometimes the work is not well-scheduled, and one team waits for hours for other team to finish. Sometimes bad weather stops work, and time is wasted

PG 6 years ago

There should not just be incentives , but punishment . Buyers have to pay for the builders waste , and the builders are not accountable . Also the building industry has to start to improve efficiency ,improve building techniques and do research . Too many builders in Asia just do the same old thing , and are incapable of having an original idea , and still use excessive amounts of cheap foreign labour to make up for their inefficiencies and incompetence .

Governments are also at fault , allowing unecological buildings , no even double glazing or good insulation are a requirement

Nationwide Hire 6 years ago

It is good that people are used to hiring skips at home, even though it usually is for convenience sake. If they could do the same in businesses, with some skip hire scheme or something like that. At least if it benefits the company in some way, more will be saved in the long run.

gargi Chauhan 2 years ago

Rural areas produces less waste

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