Reputational risk will be key to managing construction waste

As new legislation means construction companies will no longer have to produce site waste management plans for every project, Neil Grundon, deputy chairman of Grundon Waste Management, says he believes the reputational risk of failing to deal with waste properly will be enough to keep companies “in line”.

“There is little point in building a smart, environmentally-friendly new development if you find yourself on the front pages of the papers because waste dumped a few miles down the road has been traced back to your company. The damage to the reputation of those businesses which do not take care of their waste properly has the potential to be huge.
Having legislation in place has undoubtedly helped push waste management up the agenda, ensuring that most construction companies now factor in the need to manage their waste at the start of each project.

What I would like to see though, is more careful consideration about how that waste is handled and encourage them to realise the commercial benefits that can be achieved by increasing recycling rates.

Most are very good at managing items in the early stages, such as soil, wood and bricks, but what many fail to realise is that the waste industry has become much more specialised in the way it handles different materials.

As projects progress to the fit-out stage, most builders continue to dispose of waste such as cardboard and plastics into general waste. In fact, those are valuable commodities which they could deal with much more efficiently and cost effectively, for example, by installing balers on site.

Waste management costs have risen significantly since the regulations were introduced and now form a sizeable part of the budget for any development. By looking more closely at their waste management policies and procedures, I believe most construction companies would be able to identify potential cost savings and push up recycling rates at the same time.

Surely that’s a win-win situation for their reputation and for the environment.”

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