The shift of focus from household waste to industrial and commercial waste should be welcomed, according to Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) head of construction Mike Watson.
Speaking about the Lords Science Committee report on waste, Watson said that businesses are becoming more aware of construction waste and are recycling more of it. He said that there was more to do because construction produces a huge amount of waste and contributes to a third of all the waste in the UK. He also acknowledged that larger businesses would find it easier than smaller ones to recycle their waste.
Watson added: We welcome the report because it raises awareness of waste and resource issues, particularly in the current economic climate. When resources are scarce it can help businesses to save on cost, which is a crucial area for construction. The focus has mainly been on municipal waste but industrial and commercial waste should be focused on as well.
The UK sends 25 million tonnes of construction waste to landfill each year.
The Lords called for the Government to give high priority to the collection of data on waste. Watson said that WRAP agreed with the Lords and said that its Net Waste Tool, an online forecast system, would help businesses to forecast waste arisings for their construction projects.
In June 2008, the Government launched a strategy for sustainable construction, designed to halve construction waste to landfill by 2012. It also set up site waste management plans (SWMPs) for construction projects in England worth more than £300,000, in which, from the pre-construction stage onwards, firms must declare waste materials and how they will be disposed of. Watson said that firms traditionally used to over-order materials but the SWMPs encouraged good practice from the start and could bring about massive cost savings.
Watson added that WRAP wanted everyone from the client, contractor and designer to have a role in reducing waste and boosting efficiency.
Image: WRAP head of construction Mike Watson