This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

It's A Wrap!

15 January 2007

Sherwood Park hotel and office complex

Taking free advice from WRAP can bring big gains on waste reduction, recycling and use of recovered materials without increasing costs, and help to live up to higher expectations of clients, investors and the community.

WASTE, ENERGY AND THE INEFFICIENT USE of resources are big news at the moment, and all companies involved in the construction and FM industries have an important role to play in driving change to increase sustainability.

The construction industry is one of the biggest consumers of material resources – over 400 million tonnes each year. At the same time, it is also one of the largest producers of waste, accounting for some 30 per cent of the UK’s total each year. By making changes to procurement practice, the industry can go a long way to improving its sustainability.

Three important areas where big gains can be easily made, without increasing costs, are waste reduction, recycling and the use of more recovered material. One agency offering free support is WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme). WRAP provides a range of practical tools and information to help companies waste less material. More and more, clients are implementing minimum requirements for recycled content in new build and refurbishment projects. By specifying a performance threshold within tender and contract documents, organisations can ensure their suppliers will adopt and quantify more sustainable practice. This demonstrates a clear contribution to CSR and other policy objectives that may be in place –thereby satisfying investors, planning authorities and employees.

It is important that FM companies are aware of these changing attitudes and work to keep ahead of the game by knowing what a client is looking for. There are many opportunities to increase sustainability within a building project, and the design and specification stage of the build process is where the most potential lies. KPMG, for example, has set a 20 per cent minimum level of recycled content for its new offices ‘up-front’ in its design brief.

Product selection
By specifying products that have an increased level of recycled content, FMs responsible for capital projects can make easy ‘quick wins’ in terms of sustainability. There are many mainstream products already available which have a higher level of recycled content than equivalent brands; for example, among bricks, blocks, boards and concrete products.

These products, and many more besides, are readily available at no extra cost and are manufactured to UK quality requirements. Through a more informed product selection, FMs can increase recycled content in a project at no extra cost. Simple product substitutions of standard construction products including aggregates, blocks, insulation, flooring and ceiling tiles can go a long way to achieving an impressive percentage of recycled content. There is also the opportunity to make cost savings through the procurement of locally sourced materials, such as recycled and secondary aggregates for use in preliminary building works, as well as roads and infrastructure projects.

Further information on the range of recycled products available can be found in WRAP’s directory of recycled products: Choosing, Construction Products: Recycled Content of Mainstream Products.

Prison service
The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is the second largest construction client in the Government after Defence Estates and is responsible for £350 million of capital investment and maintenance in the UK’s 128 prisons. To make sure that the service is more sustainable in its work, it has recently set a 20 per cent per minimum recycled content requirement for future works.

NOMS worked with WRAP to investigate the recycled content it already used by assessing one of its major construction projects underway at HMP Ranby. WRAP, working with contractor Faithful + Gould, helped NOMS evaluate its current practice in terms of the recycled content already in the products, identify alternative products which had a higher level of recycled content and provide further advice on procurement options. As a result, NOMS could increase its recycled content by a further six per cent, to 29 per cent, which represented an additional 5,070 tonnes of avoided landfill.

NOMS is a great example of how taking a more informed approach to procurement can make significant savings in terms of natural resources and reducing the amount of material which would otherwise have ended up at landfill.WRAP estimates that 60-80 per cent of waste arising on site could readily be re-used or recycled. With Landfill Tax expected to continue to rise, there is great potential for those managing the construction process to make cost savings.

Disposing of waste is exceptionally expensive and it is not just the cost of hiring the skip. With transport, handling and initial purchase cost of the waste materials, the true cost of waste has been measured as more than 15 times the hire of the skip. Instead of sending this waste to landfill, much can be recycled. Segregating different waste materials on site improves the quality of the recycled material and reduces contamination, which is important to recyclers. Higher recycling rates will mean less material disposed of at landfill and therefore lower costs in disposal.

WRAP recommends that FMs set targets for contractors to measure their waste. It is extremely difficult to identify areas where reductions can be made and improved if there is no understanding of where the waste comes from and how much there really is. There are some key considerations that FMs can take on board which will help reduce wastage on site. One area where wastage is commonplace is the over-ordering and storage of materials. Ordering just the quantities required for a certain job will reduce left-over materials to be disposed of. Even if these materials can be used in other applications on the project, if they are left sitting around for long periods of time, there is the potential of loss or damage, and therefore, waste.

Effective waste management is not just about reducing the number of skips used in refurbishment. Understanding where waste goes and what happens to it can contribute to performance via improved recycling rates given that it is not always possible to separate waste at source. By taking action now to understand how waste is re-used and recycled, FMs can reduce the cost of disposal and provide a financial and performance advantage to their clients.

With sustainability now high up the agenda, many organisations are producing their own policies and procedures for improved procurement, recycling and waste management. With the aim of spreading good practice, WRAP, has developed a number of tools and guidance documents to make solutions easier to implement.

One such tool is the Recycled Content Toolkit. The toolkit assists both public and private sector organisations in assessing the recycled content of building projects and demonstrates the five to ten largest and best opportunities to increase the overall recycled content of a project. WRAP can provide free training in the use of the toolkit to designers and contractors on major construction projects (typically £100M+).

WRAP also provides practical support and training to major exemplar clients when setting procurement requirements. As a result of working with WRAP, many leading construction contractors and clients are setting minimum recycled content
requirements. WRAP has provided the evidence to show that recycled content is easily attainable and once companies can see that it’s not as time consuming as it first appears, setting minimum requirements is an easy step to demonstrating increased sustainability.

David Moon, WRAP’s Programme Manager for Construction Procurement, comments: “Changing attitudes is key to establishing new practices and making them commonplace. Showing companies how much recycled content they are already using in their own projects is often an eye opener. Showing how easy it is to increase this further just by selecting some of the top 5 to 10 Quick Wins also surprises many people. Companies are seeing real benefits in demonstrating quantifiable good practice to planning authorities and clients.”

Caption: The development of Sherwood Park, a 92-bedroom hotel and office complex in north Nottingham saw cost-effective waste management become second nature. Simons Construction Ltd improved its waste management by training all site employees to ensure awareness of best practice, and by segregating on site waste into general, inert, metal, timber, plasterboard and hazardous waste, and encouraging all subcontractors to exercise best practice in waste management. Pre-start project meetings with subcontractors were also held, where waste minimisation was high on the agenda. A small reclaim area for the re-use of surplus materials was established and returnable transit packaging was re-used. As a result, materials were re-used up to three times. Over the whole project, 274 tonnes (68 per cent) of waste were recycled and just 401 tonnes was removed – some 13.5 cu m of waste per £100,000 of expenditure. Simons Construction was also careful to ensure that all contractors were contractually obliged to follow onsite waste management procedures.

Print this page | E-mail this page