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Trouble with the builders

The industry body that represents waste management companies, the Environmental Services Association, recently declared fly-tipping a problem that is threatening to become a way of life. Charged with making sure this does not happen, the Environment Agency (EA) has received £2 million to prevent our streets and backyards from piling up with mounds of rubbish and debris.

It is hoped the money, which comes from the Governments £284m Business Resource Efficiency and Waste fund, will help crush a practice estimated to cost more than £150m to clean up and police each year.

The EA will use its allocation of funds to provide information that helps businesses keep within the law when disposing of waste. Some of the funds will also go to targeting dumping hot spots. Unfortunately, it is odds-on that a large number of those caught at such hot spots will be connected to the construction industry as it produces a third of all fly-tipped waste in the UK.

Ninety-two million tonnes of waste from building sites is produced every year in the UK and with landfill costs rocketing year on year, there is no shortage of man with a van and other illegal operators willing to take waste from sites for a small fee and then illegally dump the waste in fields or roadsides.

In the past 16 months alone, [the equivalent of] 6,000 wagons each holding 20 tonnes of construction waste has been dumped inside the M25, says EA waste programme manager Ralph Crouch.

Although the EA may improve its policing methods, for the long-term health of our countryside and roadsides, construction companies need to make sure their waste doesnt end up in the hands of cowboys in the first place.



Lead

One company leading the way is Edmund Nuttall, a civil engineering contractor whose processes for dealing with waste so impressed the EA that it gave up the suggestion of monitoring trucks by e-tracking them.

Ralph Crouch from the EA approached us to put an e-tracker on our trucks, which would monitor where the waste from our sites goes. I was quite happy for Ralph to do that, but I thought we had the right methods in place and so invited him to come and take a look, says Edmund Nuttall environmental manager Andrew Swain.

Edmund Nuttall specialises in earthworks and can have large amounts of muckshift and hardcore to be disposed of, depending on the size of a job. By using local companies to shift their waste, there is the risk of waste being dumped illegally.

It is for this reason that staff are given training on waste management and, before any work begins on an Edmund Nuttall site, a Site Waste Management Plan is drawn up.

Site managers must look at the type of waste materials likely to be generated, their storage on-site and how they will be reused or disposed of. This includes checking whether the haulier is licensed, and ensuring that the waste, if it is dumped, ends up at a licensed site. All these instructions are kept on a simple one-page plan to make it as easy as possible for site managers to handle. The company has also devised its own waste-transfer notes (pictured).

According to Swain: We didnt think that hauliers were disposing of waste properly, so we have our own notes which we ask them to complete and return. On large jobs, we dont pay the haulier their fee until we get either the transfer note or a weighbridge ticket back. The transfer note is also used as a receipt and is recorded on a spreadsheet of site costs.

However, the firm is not focused only on disposing of waste correctly.

Swain says: We have a key aim to recycle as much as we can. Because the waste generally comes from breaking ground up, theres not much recovery but theres plenty of recycling. u

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