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Money from old rope

Environment and waste - Next year it may become compulsory for contractors to plan what they do with their waste. John McKenna explains how they can best prepare.

From October 2007 site waste management plans (SWMPs) could become a mandatory requirement for contractors on projects worth more than £200,000.

SWMPs have been developed and implemented by some contractors on a voluntary basis since the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) issued guidance in July 2004.

However, early next year, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs will be consulting on the level of compliance that will be expected of SWMPs, who will regulate them and when in the planning and construction process they will need to be submitted. It is possible that they will need to form part of an outline planning application.

Research commissioned by the Waste Resources Action Plan (WRAP) in early 2006 shows that only 11% of the top 800 construction companies use waste management plans and only 3% follow the DTI's 2004 guidelines for implementing SWMPs on a voluntary basis.

Currently 10% of construction waste is unused materials and 26% is packaging.

So what exactly are SWMPs and what will contractors need to do to comply with the anticipated legislation?

'An SWMP comprises a checklist of steps that contractors should take when planning waste disposal, 'says WRAP construction programme manager for waste minimisation and management Mervyn Jones.

'For example, questions that contractors should ask include: has a careful evaluation of materials been made so over ordering and site wastage is reduced? Can unused materials and packaging be returned? Has an area of the site been designated for waste management, including waste segregation? And have opportunities been considered for recycling, reuse or reprocessing of materials?' Jones says that introducing SWMPs can benet the bottomline. 'The true cost of waste is much higher than we think.

When the costs of the skip, transport, materials thrown away, labour and landll costs are taken into consideration, the total is more than 15 times the cost of skip hire.

'Segregating waste on site offers greater potential for recycling and can also result in cost savings, as it's cheaper to dispose of a single waste material than mixed waste.' ICE president and Carillion engineering and environment director Quentin Leiper agrees.

'The true cost of waste isn't just what you spend at the tip, ' says Leiper.

'We work very hard at the design end and in procurement because if you can save money, it all goes on to your bottom line. We also have a zero waste assessment tool to understand what the waste is, in order to continually chisel it down until we have zero waste, which makes very sound business sense.'

To find out more about SWMPs and how to develop them, visit www. wrap. org.

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