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Construction and waste: in it together


How a new online site waste planning tool is intended to provide a more consistent approach for SWMPs for contractors and waste management companies of all sizes

Online site waste planning tools are a common occurrence these days, but constructCLEAR creator George Dobson believes his new tool offers something unique.

Dobson, who is director at environmental consultancy BlueWise says: “Of course there are existing Site Waste Management Planning (SWMP) tools out there, but what became obvious [to me] was that there was an opportunity to view that as a springboard for creating a much wider encompassing tool that allowed the waste management industry and construction contractors to communicate much more effectively.”

ConstructCLEAR is a waste planning tool that brings the two industries together. For construction contractors, the tool will help them to write SWMPs, assist with carbon reporting and provide automated waste estimates, as well as using that information to issue tenders for the collection of that waste. For waste management companies, ConstructCLEAR will allow them to view projects under development and bid on waste tenders issued by contractors using the tool.

The tool is designed to be used by contractors and waste management companies of all sizes, thanks to four membership levels. SMEs can make use of the “basic” membership – a free service which allows a construction contractor to write a SWMP for one individual project and tender for waste services. “Project” memberships are paid for services, which allow users to invite their supply chain into the tool, so that they can provide direct SWMP information directly, while “company” level membership allows users to provide SWMP information and issue tenders for multiple projects, as well as using data from previous projects to provide estimates on current projects. Finally “corporate” membership allows unlimited numbers of project SWMPs to be filed.

ConstructCLEAR was developed by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) consultancy from March last year, following a successful funding application by Dobson to CPI Renew, which has helped to provide the free “basic” level membership.

TRL senior environmental consultant Ben Harris says: “Hopefully anybody can get in and use the tool and see which will be of most benefit, if you’ve just got your one site, there’s that free version but also if you’re a large corporate user, you get the benefits from corporate reporting. 

“Obviously some people are loyal to tools they’ve used and if it’s embedded in their organisation then they’re going to want to use that. It’s about giving them another option and more than what’s available at the moment, which is a bit more accessible to what they need.”

Dobson explained that the idea for the tool came from research which identified a number of ‘inconsistencies’ in the way the waste and construction industries interacted and reported information to one-another.

He says: “There were quite a few from principal contractor side, including a perceived increased cost in relation to SWMP compliance on projects, difficulties in procuring high quality waste management services, inconsistencies in quality of waste data reporting from waste organisations, a lack of a standard industry standard data reported by waste organisations.

“In relation to waste management companies, some of the issues experienced included poor and inconsistent ordering initiatives operated by principal contractors, inconsistent approaches to SWMP and waste information requirements by principal contractors. Pricing levels demanded by contractors were often incompatible with service quality requirements and there was a lack of access to principal contractors and construction projects by alternative waste and resource management companies like reuse organisations and the third sector.

“I think ConstructCLEAR addresses all of those issues. It provides consistency in its approach to the SWMP process, it enables a consistent exchange of information and ordering process, a standard template that organisations can use to quickly upload information, and it allows access for organisations that want to get access to unused material streams from construction projects, whether that be the third sector organisations or direct material reuse organisations.”

Although the tool has only recently launched, Dobson is already looking to the future, and other possible applications for other waste streams.

“There are other applications for it, it’s not just construction sector. In terms of potential for other organisations who have waste resources available – that’s certainly an area the tool could potentially develop into and I would like to see that happen.”

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