The Construction Industry Can’t Afford to Continue its Wasteful Ways

Any person walking past the average construction site can see why this industry is known for being wasteful. According to WRAP, the construction and demolition industry accounts for 60% of all materials used, creates 33% of the waste, and generates 45% of all CO2 emissions in the UK.
In 2014, Construction News reported that of the 400 million tonnes of materials delivered to sites, 60 million went straight to tip simply through over ordering, misordering or poor handling and breakages. Aside from the environmental harm, this is also a financial drag on the industry that can’t be continued.

Tracking Waste is Challenging

One of the barriers to tackling the issue has been the sheer difficulty in tracking the waste on each project and then collating the data so it can be analysed by project type and size, company division, or any other useful segmentation. If you had data like that you could identify trends, root causes and remedies. More importantly, you could track improvements and savings.

Exactly how much use is environmental data recorded on spreadsheets within individual project files – assuming that data is collected accurately in the first place? The ability to learn lessons and tackle the waste problem methodically is certainly limited.

Fortunately, modern technology has solutions that simplify data collection and analysis.

The SMARTwaste platform provides online data collection and reporting through a portal hosted by the Building Research Establishment (BRE). Contractors and their supply chains can easily and accurately report construction or demolition site environmental impacts including waste, water, energy, materials and transport. Clients can also be given access so they can see the real environmental impact of their projects.

The level of data collection and analysis available gives contractors the hard data they need to save resources and money, improve performance and become more sustainable. To date, SMARTwaste claims to have saved members nearly £28m in costs and diverted nearly 10m tonnes of waste from landfill.

Of course, it isn’t just a question of collecting and analysing data. Initiatives such as design for deconstruction, the circular economy, and greater use of offsite construction can all play a part in achieving ‘zero to landfill’ strategies. But with accurate and usable data we can make better decisions.

Apart from the obvious efficiency and cost savings, SMARTwaste helps to collate data in the correct format to attain BREEAM credits and higher scores on an environmental section of the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

Altogether, that seems like a pretty sound business case, which, along with the desire to be a responsible company, is why new Osborne projects will be signed up to SMARTwaste from Spring/ Summer 2017 with Infrastructure developing a bespoke version to facilitate compliance with their client specific reporting requirements.

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