Waste is a huge global issue. In the UK alone, we produce circa 50 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste every year.
It’s a situation that’s untenable and, traditionally, the construction sector has been a major culprit. But things are changing. The industry is making progress in reducing waste and realising tangible rewards through reducing consumption, re-using resources and recycling redundant materials.
So what are those rewards? Clearly there are environmental benefits to reducing waste, but the outcomes can be measured in very favourable financial terms too.
According to case studies from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), an average 0.4% of construction project costs can be saved by effective waste reduction. That figure may seem small but as a percentage of a £25m project value it equates to a saving of £100,000.
Of course, not all projects are multi-million pound schemes, but the principle of reducing costs, while delivering environmental benefits makes sound commercial sense on any scale.
The financial incentives simply become more compelling for higher value schemes and, as build costs are more expensive in London than anywhere else in Europe, and second only to New York worldwide, there is an urgent imperative to engage effectively with clients, designers and the supply chain to prioritise waste prevention and re-use to drive down waste.
It’s essential that an effective approach to waste management is embedded in the scheme from the outset, which means prioritising those principles across both the upstream and downstream delivery chain. Waste reduction can only be achieved if we engage not only with suppliers and re-use/recycling providers, but also with designers for better material resource efficiency outcomes.
To communicate effectively with architects about the importance of waste reduction we need to articulate the imperatives in terms that are relevant to their role. Optimising materials, avoiding over-specification and considering the lifespan of construction materials will all help improve resource efficiency if they are aligned to quality design principles and effective design coordination.
This is an excerpt from an article entitled, Am I wasting my time?, published on constructionmanagermagazine.com on 31 July 2017. Follow the link to read the full article. Please note the article may only be available for registered users.