Statutory status for Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) is coming, possibly for contracts worth more than £250,000, or for all – including demolition projects – with regulations expected in 2008. Guidance is promised by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), but construction teams should be getting up to speed with SWMPs before they become mandatory. And, says consultant Gifford, long before projects reach site.
Gifford has been working with its contracting partners to integrate SWMP procedures into existing project management systems. "Embed the new process early" is the key message for minimising the additional burden on construction teams, with support from clients.
"This is a very important message. Project owners and clients have got to sign up to the principles of SWMPs if the big benefits are to be realised," says Gifford technical director Roy Emberton. "It must not be viewed as a hurdle, as although there is more work to do up front, well developed waste plans can save a lot of money."
Publication in October of results from this year's consultation on SWMPs, suggests Defra is lining up enforcement of mandatory site waste plans (NCE 18 October). The voluntary code of practice in place since 2004 was never likely to make a real dent in construction waste and for Government to meet its new target of reducing quantities to landfill by half by 2012, it will need wholescale adoption of SWMP principles.
The additional administrative burden is not perceived by many as critical, according to Defra, and its consultation report suggests the proposed £250,000 threshold will be lowered or dropped in favour of enforcement through planning or CDM regulations. The latter route would ease the transition, says Gifford senior engineer and member of ICE's waste and resources management board Dr Heidi Shaw: "Site waste management would benefit from following a similar path to health and safety through a legislative framework similar to CDM because everyone down the supply chain should have an obligation towards waste.
"Enforcing SWMPs should not be difficult, because nothing is as powerful a draw as cost benefit. It is important for us all to benchmark the current standard in good practice and do better. We are emphasising the value of setting up SWMPs early through a process map approach added to contractors' normal processes," says Shaw.
Developing site waste plans should also be treated as an iterative process, says Emberton. The plan should be formulated by clients before contract procurement and then developed through detailed design and into the project's change-management procedures.
"These are the three key points where waste must be given adequate consideration.
"It should be very much an iterative process with the essentials of the plan in place early because it impacts on the resourcing of a project.
At the moment, we are working with teams that already have construction phase environmental management plans in place.
"We are preparing their waste and resources plans, working with designers and contractors to identify how jobs can be built to generate less waste in comparison to the design. The SWMP falls quite easily out of that process."
Using existing processes, instead of bolting on another plan, keeps additional work to a minimum and ties closely with what contractors and clients are already doing, says Emberton: "This makes it easier to ensure material compliance and to integrate the site waste plan into a project's change management system," he says.
Gifford WSP is the project designer for the MVM project consortium of Morgan Est, Sir Robert McAlpine and Vinci on the M1 widening scheme between junctions 25 and 28. Emberton says an SWMP has influenced the project design process, procurement strategy and construction thus far.
"The waste plan exists as a series of spreadsheets, interactive with the change management system for modernising as the project progresses," says Emberton. "During the review of the M1 earthworks, for example, we have identified mechanisms for reusing fill and pavement materials that represent savings of thousands of pounds.
"It is amazing how volumes of material arising can increase through small changes to design. Mechanisms are needed to deal with the changes and the earlier the processes are in place, the easier the changes are to manage."
Gifford is also working with local authority clients, having integrated an SWMP into the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted with Halton Borough Council's New Mersey Crossing planning application. "Pre-planning waste assessment and putting a waste mitigation chapter into an EIA is ground breaking," says Shaw.
SWMPs: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT IS A SWMP?
A SWMP provides a structure for waste delivery and disposal at all stages during a construction project.
Typically it will identify the following:
Who will be responsible for resource management
What types of waste will be generated
How the waste will be managed Đ will it be
reduced, reused or recycled?
Which contractors will be used to ensure the waste is correctly recycled or disposed of responsibly and legally
How the quantity of waste generated from the project will be measured.
WHO WILL BE AFFECTED BY A SWMP?
Anyone planning a construction project costing more than Ł250,000 in England.
Suppliers to the construction industry.
WHY DO I NEED A SWMP?
It will protect the environment - SWMPs help to manage and reduce the amount of waste that construction projects produce and that means less waste going to landfill. There are many other environmental benefits including less harm to the local environment, less fly tipping, reduced energy consumption and a greater take-up of recycled materials.
It will save money - Managing materials supply more efficiently immediately cuts costs. Better storage and handling of materials reduces waste and enables better recovery. Recycling and reusing cuts disposal costs.
HOW A SWMP CAN BENEFIT YOU:
Any queries from environmental regulators or the local council regarding waste can be answered simply and easily, saving you time
A SWMP can also help your business avoid prosecution by making sure all waste leaving site ends up at the right place
It shows how waste is managed and could help to cut costs. Your customers will find it valuable to see where environmental and cost savings are being made
The materials and waste on a building site are more responsibly managed and therefore are less of a risk to the local environment
Once an SWMP is complete it becomes a useful tool that shows how resources have been used and waste managed, giving you valuable information for the future.
NEED MORE HELP?
NetRegs (www.netregs.gov.uk) A government website that guides small businesses on how to comply with environmental legislation
Department of Trade and Industry (www.dti.gov.uk)
Envirowise (www.envirowise.gov.uk) Offers UK businesses free advice and support on practical ways to reduce environmental impact
CIRIA (www.ciria.org.uk) Promotes industry best practice
NISP (www.nisp.org.uk) The National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) helping companies to improve their resource
Carbon Trust (www.carbon-trust.com)
Facts and Figures
The average 8 cubic yard skip costs around Ł150.
The average cost of what is being thrown away in that skip is more than Ł1,200.
In the UK an average of 13% of all materials delivered to site go into the skip without ever being used.
The UK produces around 400M tonnes of waste annually, of which about 72M tonnes comes from construction sites.
The construction industry produces the equivalent of 1.45 tonnes of waste for every single person in the UK. (Source: CIRIA)