In July another piece of the EU Landfill Directive comes into force. This time it’s the turn of the construction industry to manage their waste properly. The sight of the ubiquitous monster skip stuffed to overflowing with all sorts parked outside building sites will soon be a thing of the past, or so the theory goes. In its place will be a neat row of smaller skips each containing specific types of waste ready for landfill or recycling. Such theories may work well in France or Germany but do not cross the Channel very well. In Britain we fill our attics, spare rooms and garages with rubbish waiting for the day when an unsuspecting builder parks a skip in the road whereupon, in the hours of darkness, it becomes a trash magnet and miraculously fillswith the neighbourhood detritus. Such considerate fly-tipping is unlikely to respect any waste management policy which the builder may have put in place. Of course, the canny builder always orders two skips, one tobe delivered at night and collected in the morning when the real skip is delivered so that the British sense of achievement is satisfied and the site suffers the minimum inconvenience and delay.If you have been to your local tip - sorry, Civic Amenity Centre - you will have some idea what is intended to happen. The Council no longer runs the site but pay a Waste Management Company to do the job for them.Gone is the hole through which the detritus of life disappeared and in its place is a bewildering array of bins, skips and other receptacles into which you are expected to sort your waste so that they can sell it on atminimum inconvenience and cost to themselves. And, no doubt, your rates have also gone up to pay for this service. This is what is intended to happen with our builder friends. They will also have to produce a SiteWaste Management Plan (SWMP) and will without doubt have to pay more to site manage and dispose of waste which they will predictably claim back through a precept on sub-contractors as “originators” of theproblem. Passing on the cost to clients will be the last option as it will be an admission that they didn’t manage waste in the past.Knowing the way the construction industry works there is little doubt that their ability to quickly don a Teflon overcoat when a crisis looms will be the way forward here and the problem will be rapidly passed down thecontractual food chain. That the subject will be trivialised by a formulaic approach, much the same as the CDM Regulations have been, can be predicted. Identify the problem, fill-in the tick sheet and the law is satisfied is the approach, but the tick sheet is completed in a hierarchical manner down the food chain sothe blame for any misdemeanour always ends up at the bottom.Thinking of how we as a practice would respond to the foreseeable request for designers information pertinent to this legislation lead to the realisation that a SWMP checklist can be produced. This can alsoincorporate WEEE and RoHS information so that knowledge of a site will allow an insert for the SWMP to be quickly formulated by word processing the appropriate parts into a site specific document. The checklist will also ensure that nothing is missed.This approach can also be readily adapted to panel building operations. Most panel builders already have a lot of waste information through COSHH and environmental assessments. Putting this information together with information on waste that you historically end up having to dispose of, or can foresee that you will have to dispose of when installing, modifying or repairing panels on-site, which may often include mechanical services or building trades, will allow likely problems and costs to be identified across the waste spectrum at tender stage and appropriate costs for management and disposal included rather than discover problems and costs on-site. Don’t be afraid to identify these costs, everyone else has jumped on the bandwagon of “environmental disposal costs” so why should panel builders be shy - it also demonstrates a professional approach to clients. Whilst the impact of the new waste management and disposal requirements will hit the construction industry in the main it is the waste that matters in the end and everyone will be sucked into compliance. Make sure you don’t get caught out.
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