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Auditable waste trail

Construction materials matching via the internet - when companies with surplus materials identify others in need of that material - is not a new idea, as many firms in the industry are well established. But Waste-a-base, a fresh type of dating service for waste materials, has developed the idea further with its fully audited and accountable service.

Director Joe Jackson explains: “We provide a commercial platform for transactions to take place. We will get quotes for any firm in the country. We provide total transparency of the prices they put forward, creating a market best-price for all the waste or recycled material.We are the only party that our clients need to contract with, which is important for those trying to reduce their list of suppliers.”

Waste-a-base can find a waste receiver for any materials but construction materials are the main wastes dealt with currently, with excavation waste a significant proportion of this.

The point on transparency for the waste producer is key for Jackson. “We are acting as an agent for the waste producer, completely independent, which is unusual in the waste management world. We are allowing the producer to understand all their options regarding their waste or surplus material on a completely obligation-free basis.”

When a waste receiver signs up to the service, a thorough check is carried out on the company. It must provide information on its site permit or exemption details, as well as key information including insurance, environmental and health and safety performance.

The producer is able to see which technologies the waste receiver will use to dispose of the waste or, increasingly, re-use as a resource.

Once the waste producer keys in the type, amount and the location of the waste, the system sends a request out to the most appropriate and nearby companies to provide a quote for disposal to the most appropriate and nearby facilities. After a number of quotes are gathered, usually around eight or nine, the waste producer chooses which one fits it best.

For Jackson, it is the lack of transparency which leads to a lot of construction waste being shuffled around between subcontractors, which, in extreme cases, can mean the producer has no idea where its waste has ended up. Waste-a-base contractually obliges the waste receiver to provide full documentary evidence, which ensures the waste can be tracked easily and the producer has detail of exactly how it was disposed of or recovered.

“It is absolutely critical to construction companies that they know what is being recycled,” says Jackson. “They are keen to get information back on where their waste goes because they are accountable to shareholders or public bodies.”

Disposal costs for the waste producer are much lower because of the direct contractual arrangements between waste producer and receiver. Jackson claims that excavation waste disposal can be as much as 25% to 40% cheaper than commercial prices, which is an attractive prospect for companies in a sector hit badly by the recession.

“We boil the decision making down to three key aspects: legal compliance, sustainability and cost,” says Jackson.

He has been recruiting more waste receivers for the network to ensure the service covers most of the UK, representing an annual capacity of more than 70 million tonnes. Future plans are to expand into mainland Europe, communicating its transparency message along the way.

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