From April 2008 on Contractors in England shall have another legal requirement to comply with among the host of national and European regulations. The requirement is the provision of Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) which will be a legal requirement for all construction projects in England over £300,000, after the 6th of April.
On the face of it one would think that this would be just another pen pushing/PC keyboard keying burden, but the research says otherwise. In fact there is evidence to suggest that the SWMPs should actually save the construction industry significant sums of money in a manner which is also sustainable as it results in reduced energy utilisation and a lower raw material consumption rate.
Site Waste Management Plans should also help the construction industry to get maximum value out of its waste and make better use of resources and in this way they will be moving towards more sustainable waste management. It will also expose the cowboys in the industry, and reduce fly tipping as a result.
These plans are cited as being extremely beneficial in formalising a comprehensive recycling and waste management strategy for each project. If they succeed in this they will become important tools for the construction industry. Those that propound their use say they will be a good way to help businesses be careful about how they use, store and dispose of materials which at present usually only get consideration AFTER all other factors have been decided.
By taking early action on waste before the planned enforcement of Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) contractors are said to be benefiting from significant cost savings, much to the surprise of all concerned. These Plans should provide a structure for waste delivery and disposal during construction projects, reduce waste going to landfill and increase recycling rates on-site.
The industry has been following a voluntary code of practice launched by DTI in 2004, but implementation has been patchy. Defra resolved that enforcement would be necessary and has developed proposals for the introduction of compulsory site waste management plans in England.
Contractors seeking more information about the plans should read the latest news on construction waste on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website. There is also guidance for anyone working in building, demolition, civil engineering or building trades on the UK Government’s NetRegs website. It has also been possible to download the non-statutory guidance for site waste management plans from the Defra website (PDF) for some time, and before the deadline for the new regulations this April there is likely to be updated information provided for downloading..
Construction and demolition waste accounts for around 33% of controlled waste in the UK (over 100 million tonnes/ year), making it the single largest waste stream.
Construction is the single largest user of material resources in the economy and generates 100 million tonnes of waste every year WRAP. Construction firms are being urged to take early action on waste before the planned enforcement of Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) next year so that they are not overburdened when enforcement commences.
If they work as intended by the government, SWMPs should do a lot to change the construction industry’s attitude to waste by raising the profile of waste management planning. Defra held regional workshops for the construction industry during the consultation period at which a two way dialogue helped to do just that.
But, don’t forget that it is not all about cost saving and sustainability for the government. Our English MPs are also concerned about the small, but increasing amount of construction waste that is illegally dumped or fly-tipped and which causes enormously bad publicity wherever locally it takes place.
The SWMP regulations will encourage contractors to recycle suitable spoil, demolition materials, prunings, and surplus construction material arising from the works on site to avoid the need to transport materials. CIRIA are currently developing Best Practice examples of waste minimisation in the UK Construction sector. Also, a SWMP, guidance document and a Code of Practice were launched back in July 2004 to help the construction industry face the major challenge of changes in waste management legislation, including SWMPs.
The purpose of SWMPs will basically also encompass a new site task to provide accurate projections for waste delivery and disposal at every stage of a construction project. Many will see this as very burdensome.
SWMPs will apply to all construction work including preparatory work such as demolition and excavation, civil engineering and engineering projects, and projects involving maintenance, alteration and decoration of existing structures. Also to be included in the plans is the installation, maintenance or removal of related services such as electrical, gas, water, sewage and telecommunications.
The workload required to produce and maintain and circulate the Site Waste Management Plan is significant, but these actions are seen to be of great value as an important tool for cost savings for construction companies and their clients, of all sizes. The new enforceable provision of SWMPs should provide another step in the quest to improve the environmental performance of all English construction contractors, and help them to meet regulatory controls, and reduce the ever-rising costs of disposing of waste.
The implementation of this statutory duty to prepare construction site waste management plans will be starting very soon. We recommend that all construction professionals should familiarise themselves now with the Code of Practice.
The SWMP should not be seen as a negative development as it aims to assist contractors in their own management of their waste development and disposal planning. Contracting industry staff will surely soon be able to roll out of Site Waste Management Plans rapidly and efficiently for the benefit of all involved after a short initial period of learning, and in most cases the SWMP should then save money for the site developer and users.