Applying & Testing Waste Management Quick Wins

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Executive Summary

This project was to implement and test construction waste recovery Quick Wins (QWs) on several case study projects on behalf of the construction team at the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), to investigate construction waste streams and analyse the management and disposal process. The aim was to explore a range of possibilities and best practice options available to the construction industry to divert waste from landfill at no cost or at a cost advantage.
This study identifies key areas to implement procedures and processes to successfully achieve the identified QWs.

We summarise the key findings and recommendations of the report:

Diagnosis of Waste Streams and Appraisal of Management Options

There continues to be a distinct lack of interaction between waste processors and the construction industry at a high level. This can be mainly attributed to the different skill sets, training and industrial background that each group generally has, and this can prevent an effective analysis of the waste streams and identification of the best management options.

The fact that every project is geographically unique and has different processing needs in terms of actual waste arisings and in terms of time, quality, and cost also appears to negatively impact on management’s ability to make informed decisions early on.

Management often lacks the appreciation of QWs and waste management on site, and perceive several behavioural, organisational and operational barriers and uncertainties to the implementation of QWs. Implementing QWs can be both cost advantageous and can further benefit the project eg through more effective programme management at no extra cost, especially if integrated early on in the operation.

This however requires that decisions are based on valid and accurate information about the site, the waste streams and the potential management options.  As demonstrated by the case studies, the implementation process can be both cost advantageous, and if integrated early on in the operation, it can further benefit the project e.g. through more effective programme management at no extra cost.  This however requires that decisions are based on valid and accurate information about the site, the waste streams and the potential management options.

Early Systemic Implementation

As demonstrated by the case studies, implementation of QWs early on in the operation can have financial and efficiency benefits.  While improving site operations and contractual arrangements can achieve some QWs, incorporating these systemically into the construction methodology bears most benefit especially before the construction phase. QWs implementation once construction has begun can be both contentious and less cost advantageous. The limited time span of this project meant that often the latter was the only implementation option.

One of the main barriers to this is the lack of knowledge amongst high level construction management professionals, such as project managers or commercial managers, which can result in a perception that better waste management costs time and money.  ‘Bottom-up’ Analysis and Subsequent Benchmarking of Expectations

There is a need for a ‘bottom up’ analysis of costs and operational rationale, while keeping options open to enable working with more than one waste management contractor. This would minimise uncertainties, and ensure optimal utilisation of waste streams as a resource or QW.

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