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Massive push to zero waste

Kier Construction Northern won the Construction Recycler of the Year category at the recent National Recycling Awards. As part of our best practice series, Andrea Lockerbie takes a look at why

Kier Construction Northern made a decision to send zero waste to landfill by 2013 and put in place the measures needed to achieve this, supporting local communities along the way. The judges recognised that it “showed lots of initiatives that have been really thought through” and were particularly impressed with those that encouraged reuse: “We are looking forward to seeing this widely implemented across Kier and embedded in its culture,” they added.

By partnering with Premier Waste UK, Kier managed to increase landfill diversion from 12% in 2006 to 98% in 2012. Alongside this, the company has saved at least £262,000 and reduced its carbon by 886 tonnes. This was partly achieved through the simple measure of switching from the use of skips to bins. On average, this saved the company £11,000 per project, as well reducing traffic, noise and disruption to local communities.

Community-led initiatives included creating a community storage area on site so subcontractors could place unwanted materials for other subcontractors to see and use, reducing waste, CO2 and disposal cost. It also holds open days so the local community can come to the site and remove unwanted materials, again saving disposal costs and encouraging reuse.

Kier has diverted 280 tonnes of timber to the National Wood Recycling Project, who use the timber to put people back to work within the area of the project, making it into items such as benches and tables.

Other initiatives include:

  • Altering site levels to retain more materials on site, saving it money and reducing CO2
  • Reusing demolition materials, saving it from importing material and the associated cost
  • Stripping vegetation and trees on sites and mulching it for landscaping instead of sending it to landfill
  • Working with Protec to recycle all of its personal protective equipment after handover of a building

Working with Premier Waste UK, it produced a bespoke website that gave instant information on waste streams, compared sites and scored them, predicted waste usage and cost, displayed CO2 information and produced management reports.

Premier Waste UK also produce project graphs for monthly waste streams, skip/bin costs, number of skips/bins used, savings due to recycling, carbon footprint of recycled and landfill waste including travel, and how this fared against targets.

A bespoke intuitive waste ticket has helped drive down waste to landfill by accurately predicting the type and percentage of waste within the bin/skip.

Kier’s relationship with Premier Waste has been key. Premier make regular visits to plan and discuss waste streams, target areas where waste to landfill can be reduced, and advise on the best outlets for its waste streams.  

With 2% of its waste still going to landfill, the pair have been looking at making this remaining waste stream consistent and reliable enough for heat recovery and hope to be able to achieve zero waste to landfill by December 2013.


“It’s a great tribute to everyone at Kier who have worked hard, to not only do their day job, to put the build into construction, but put together a great recycling and waste reduction programme and actually carry it through. This has all been backed up by a partnership with Premier Waste who have really given us the expertise and pointed us in the right direction and supported us while we did it.”

Bob Fairhurst, Kier environmental quality manager after winning

Category Finalists:

  • Breyer Group
  • Brookfield Multiplex Construction Europe
  • Interserve Construction
  • McGrath Group
  • RSK and Taylor Wimpey
  • Willmott Dixon

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