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25th Jul 2024
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Industry supports better approach to dealing with waste

by The Editor at 13:54 02/10/07 (News)
Proposals to cut the 109m tonnes of waste produced annually on construction sites in England and Wales have been broadly endorsed by the building sector.
Responses published to a Government consultation show that 75 per cent of respondents support the idea of legally binding Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) to reduce illegal waste disposal and improve efficiency. The views will now feed into Defra's preparation of regulations to come into force in England in 2008.

The Minister for Waste, Joan Ruddock, said: "This level of support for our proposals is very welcome. The Government is determined to drive down waste production and increase recycling and re-use. It is very good to have the backing of the industry as we move towards new Regulations."

SWMPs aim to reduce the quantity of materials used and to encourage reuse and recycling, as well as environmentally sustainable disposal where necessary. Around 13 per cent of all the solid materials delivered to construction sites goes unused, and up to one third ends up in landfill.

The plans would require an assessment of the waste to be produced on a construction site and detail how it would be reused, disposed of, or recycled.

During construction, the plans would be updated to record what actually happens to the waste, including the legitimate disposal of materials that cannot be reused or recycled. This audit trail would reduce the potential for fly-tipping and increase the accountability of contractors. They should also help the construction industry to get maximum value out of its waste and make better use of resources.

The issues addressed in the consultation included whether to make SWMPs a statutory requirement or to continue the existing voluntary approach, the minimum level at which a project should require a SWMP, the level of detail they should offer, and how the SWMP can improve resource efficiency.

Responses to the consultation were mixed on the criteria and the threshold to be used in setting minimum requirements for SWMPs. Project value was generally felt to be the most practical approach to setting criteria and Defra will now do further analysis of the costs and benefits for different types of construction activity to inform decision-making on the threshold level.

The responses also stressed the need for effective enforcement, publicity and training, and the need for support for the SME sector.

Once the regulations are finalised, Defra will produce guidance to help businesses prepare for and implement them.

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Susie Hughes
The Editor Hardhatter 2007

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