Guidance to reduce waste in building projects

Defra will repeal Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP), despite respondents to a recent consultation being evenly split 50:50 for or against the action.

In its summary to responses to the consultation on the repeal of SWMP, Defra acknowledges more work can be undertaken to reduce waste, with particular focus on moving materials up the waste hierarchy.

“Waste prevention is a complex issue and will require many different actions in order to deliver significant change,” it states in the summary document.

One such action is the launch by the British Standards Institute (BSI) standard to help reduced waste in the early stages of building or refurbishment projects. BS 8895-1 Designing for material efficiency in building projects – Part 1: Code of Practice is one of three documents to enable designers, architects, contractors and clients to make their building projects more materially efficient.

The standard is intended to allow teams to consider the materials they use, factoring in high recyclability, designing out waste and implementing recycling strategies before any work is undertaken. As material efficiency needs and waste reduction measures identified after strategies in place are difficult to implement retrospectively, the emphasis is on designing out waste in the first place. Intelligent material waste reduction can help minimise build time and project costs, key issues for building projects.

Designing out waste in the first place should be the ideal approach

construction sitePhoto: Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

The key features of the standard are:

·         A consistent and qualified approach for designing for material efficiency

·         Integration of principles of designing out waste at early stages and communicating them in a formal and referenced manner

·         Complements guides such as those produced by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme)

An online survey conducted by BSI found that 74% of respondents identified the design stage as one of the key phases in a project where waste reduction is considered, underlining the importance of having a standard that targets this point in a project. The standard is linked to the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Plan of Works part A (appraisal) and B (design brief which make up the preparative stages of a build.

The repeal of the SWMP regulations was in response to the Government’s Red Tape Challenge, designed to remove unnecessary legislation to free up business.


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