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Construction Waste to be Halved by 2012

The Sustainability Forum, together with WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme), are calling on the construction industry to achieve a 50% cut in materials waste going to landfill by the year 2012.

Responding to the Strategic Forum for Construction’s decision to focus on waste reduction as a key component of sustainability, the two organisations believe this is a measurable and achievable industry-wide target for reducing material waste in construction. The Forum and WRAP are working jointly on how best to help the industry to achieve this target.

The UK construction industry consumes more than 400 million tonnes of materials each year and generates over 100 million tonnes of waste. Around 30 million tonnes each year ends up as construction waste going straight to landfill.

Ian Coull, Chair of the Sustainability Forum, said: “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 an 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.”

By adopting best practices in waste management and minimisation, including the target to halve waste, the Sustainability Forum believes major construction projects like the 2012 Olympics and the Thames Gateway regeneration can act as models for the industry. In the Thames Gateway, for example, waste reduction on planned new housing alone could amount to one million tonnes, representing savings in materials and landfill costs of more than £600 million .

WRAP’s Chief Executive, Jennie Price, commented: “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.”

A number of influential client and industry organisations are already leading the way, including the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Major Contractors Group who have committed to setting minimum requirements on waste and recycling. The Planning Policies for Sustainable Building guidance document recently published by the Local Government Association and Planning Officers’ Society also sets a clear direction on waste and recycling.

“This is not a ‘challenge’ to the industry, but a real opportunity for long-term environmental responsibility from the sector, which is one of the UK’s biggest generators of waste. We already have evidence demonstrating the significant benefits to be gained and we can help put it into practice,” said WRAP’s Head of Construction, Dr Mike Watson. “If this can be translated into action throughout the supply chain, halving construction waste by 2012 is a real possibility.”

WRAP can help organisations reduce waste going to landfill by:

  • reducing the amount of waste generated;
  • recycling wastes that are produced; and
  • buying products and materials with recycled content.

WRAP and bodies such as Envirowise, as well as other work on construction through Defra’s BREW programme, are delivering step-by-step guidance and support to all those involved in the construction process to help reduce waste and use materials more efficiently, thereby increasing the sector’s sustainability.

Posted 23rd November

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