Legislation and Construction and Demolition Waste
The underpinning work on the the development of construction and demolition waste legislation across the EU comes from the EU Waste Framework Directive. This defines how industries should put waste management and waste prevention plans in place and implement a continuing duty of care, including adhering to the waste hierarchy.
All waste handling firms, whether it is their own or someone else’s, must be registered with the Environmental Agency as a carrier. Failure to do so can lead to criminal prosecution and a substantial fine.
The Waste Hierarchy and Legislation
The waste hierarchy is a 5 stage process for dealing with materials in a more sustainable way and involves:
- Prevention: Making sure you don’t create waste in the first place.
- Reuse: Preparing materials and products to be reused or repurposed.
- Recycling: Changing waste materials into new products.
- Other recover methods such as incineration for heat and energy production.
- Disposal to areas such as landfill.
Prevention, reuse and recycling are the leading factors in handling waste and all construction and demolition companies have to have the right processes in place for dealing with these kinds of material. Disposal should be considered the final solution and currently only a small proportion of construction and demolition waste now goes to places like landfill compared to a few decades ago.
Find out more about construction and demolition waste management in the UK.
The major pieces of UK legislation that are informed by the EU Waste Framework Directive are:
- The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011
- The Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011
- The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2011
Where hazardous waste is concerned there are additional regulations for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This includes the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 and the Special Waste (Scotland) Regulations 1996.
Codes of Practice and Policies
The construction and demolition industry also has a number of different codes of practice and initiatives in place to help the management of waste across all areas including excavation.
Demolition Code of Practice BS 6187:2000
Set up in 2000, the code of practice looks at the whole process of demolition from planning right through to the execution stage including how waste is managed and recycled appropriately. This is a wide ranging document and relates closely to the HSE Health and Safety in Demolition Work guidance.
One of the drivers that convince construction and demolition companies to manage their waste more effectively is the Landfill Tax. This essentially charges organisations for the amount that ends up at landfill, moving them towards a more sustainable approach. In essence, it helps make reusing and recycling the profitable option.
The use of recycled waste in aggregates that can then be used for jobs such as landscaping or road building is an important part of sustainability in the industry. Offering a levy on recycled aggregate discourages the use of primary, environmentally costlier aggregates.
The Strategy for Sustainable Construction
Working with the Government, the industry is attempting to change practice and become more sustainable by promoting behavioural change. This is a big benefit to both the industry and the local ecology and economy.
Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs)
Since 2008, any construction project over £300K has to produce a Site Waste Management Plan, designed to improve the use of resources and to make sure that materials are recycled and reused as much as possible.
Another thing that is changing with current regulations and processes in place within the construction and demolition industry is the use of better equipment. This has seen companies swapping the traditional ball and chain methods for tools such as hydraulic and pneumatic breakers.
Find out more about construction and demolition equipment.