Prevention and Minimisation
Prevention’ means measures taken before a substance, material or product has become waste that reduces:
(a) the quantity of waste, including through the re-use of products or the extension of the life span of products;
(b) the adverse impacts of the generated waste on the environment and human health; or
(c) the content of harmful substances in materials and products;
Waste prevention is the primary means of improving resource efficiency, through the saving and optimisation of materials. Waste prevention reduces the loss of resources and stops the environmental impacts associated with waste management from occurring.
Welsh Government’s ambition is to be a zero waste one planet nation by 2050. The best way of achieving this is by preventing waste being created. Where this is not possible we must minimise the amount of waste we produce. Waste prevention sits at the top of the waste hierarchy. This means that it is the most sustainable waste management solution. We can prevent waste by:
- Developing clean production technologies that use lower levels of natural resources; and
- Eco designing, developing and marketing products that make no or little environmental impact from their manufacture, use or disposal – so that they last longer before they become waste, or they can be refurbished.
We can minimise waste by using controls when producing goods so that we are using resources as efficiently as possible.
The Arup Ecological Footprint report concluded that a 70% recycling rate alone would only result in a 14% reduction in the C&D waste footprint. In order to meet the 2050 One Planet goal there would need to be an emphasis on waste prevention as a primary means of reducing the ecological footprint of C&D waste in Wales. Waste prevention is therefore the best way of reducing the ecological footprint of waste in Wales.
With this in mind, Towards Zero Waste proposes waste prevention targets of 1.4% year on year reduction of waste arisings for C&D waste to 2050. Because activity within the construction and demolition industry is affected by economic change, and also because many of the waste prevention actions take effect in the medium to long term, we propose to monitor our waste prevention actions using 5 year milestones in arisings and composition.
A set of priority materials have been identified within this sector (wood, plastic, metal, insulation & gypsum, and hazardous waste). The ecological footprint of waste can be reduced more quickly if the focus is on preventing arisings of these materials, where it is feasible to do so.
Effective strategies to promote public awareness of waste prevention and to reduce the generation of specific types of waste. Practices have been selected to demonstrate excellent examples of informational, promotional and regulatory measures to stimulate the prevention of waste. The European Commission selected consideration of the following criteria:
• Targeted: Practices have a strong waste prevention focus, clearly distinct from other waste management strategies or broad environmental goals
• Innovative: Practices use original or resourceful techniques for waste prevention
• Replicable: Practices can be easily reproduced and are similarly relevant in regions across Europe
• Representative: Practices originate from a wide range of countries, operate at national, regional and local level, and target a variety of waste streams
• Effective: Practices have clearly defined objectives and measurable results
The Halving Waste to Landfill initiative factsheet describes the regional background, policy context and targeted waste stream. The objectives, means and results are explained, accompanied by resources. It is a good example of best practice in waste prevention.
WRAP’s designing out waste programme presents the best opportunities for improving materials resource efficiency in construction projects occur during the design stage. Implementing these opportunities can provide significant reductions in cost, waste and carbon. The designing out waste guidance note provides more information on the process.
Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP) help to manage the materials and provide an incentive to waste prevention/minimisation. A SWMP sets out how resources will be managed and waste controlled at all stages during a construction project.
A SWMP covers:
• Who will be responsible for resource management?
• What types of waste will be generated.
• How the waste will be managed – will it be reduced, reused or recycled?
• Which contractors will be used to ensure the waste is correctly recycled or disposed of responsibly and legally.
• How the quantity of waste generated by the project will be measured.
Waste prevention/minimization best practice strategies and procedures are applied at each stage of the building life cycle. Please see the links below for more information.
Design has a significant influence on the volume of waste that will be generated on a construction project. Complex designs often require more cutting of standard sized materials which will create large volumes of waste off cuts.
Architects and designers make key decisions during the design stage of a project without occasionally considering what affect they will have on waste production. The first step in waste prevention is to create awareness of the waste problem in construction, rather than simply accepting it as inevitable.
Waste should be a factor in choosing materials and methods of construction. The D4D principle addresses the importance of waste prevention at design stage. The Design for Deconstruction project identifies material selection as an opportunity to minimize/prevent waste whilst deconstructing a building.
The Eco-design centre exists so that design-led approaches can be a key element of insuring society no longer ignores the environmental and social impacts of everyday decisions.
A design team can include requirements in the works specification on construction waste, including restrictions on the volumes of waste allowable, and minimum recycling and recovery percentages. This should ensure that the contractor keeps waste to a minimum. BRE modern methods of construction describe a range of processes and technologies which involve prefabrication, off-site assembly and various forms of supply chain specifications. Also, the Green Guide is primarily developed to provide building architects and specifiers environmental impact information to support the material/product specification and selection process. However, it can be used at any stage in the construction value chain.
Starting a SWMP at the design stage – before work starts on site – is an integral part of the Designing out Waste process. Recording design decisions made to Design out Waste in the SWMP will help in communicating them to the client and contractor and ensure that they are implemented on site.
The planning system has little part to play in the prevention of waste. However, a potentially key aspect of waste prevention that could be considered is the impact of redevelopment on the production of waste building materials, and whether greater emphasis in national planning policy on the reuse of existing buildings where possible, rather than their demolition and redevelopment, might have a role in reducing the production of waste.
Sustainable development is the core principle underpinning land-use planning, and effectively managing waste is one of its’ key elements. Where waste is produced it should be seen as a potential resource to be put to good use in place of primary materials. The requirement to minimise the production of waste is supported in land-use planning at national, regional, and local policy level. Waste reduction also contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by minimising the production, use, transportation and disposal of materials.
The Welsh Government technical advice notes (TAN) should be taken into account by local planning authorities when they are preparing development plans. They should be read along with the Planning Policy Wales (PPW) document which sets out our land use planning policies. TAN 12 provides advice on good design. It covers the design process, design issues, local planning authority design policy and advice and design and access statements.
TAN 21 (Waste) provides advice on the planning framework in Wales, regional co-ordination in Wales, principles and techniques, planning considerations in waste issues, unitary development plans, development control and types of waste.
No turning back presents the case for a renewed emphasis on best value and collaborative working in public sector construction procurement. The document refers to the Church Village Bypass project as an example of best value procurement. Church Village Bypass aims to improve the local road network and is seen as strategically important for the regeneration of the whole of Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT). The principal requirement was to deliver the bypass on time and under budget with savings achieved through value engineering and construction initiatives. However, the team also set itself challenging environmental and community goals. The project is a great example of waste minimization/prevention and was adopted as a modern method of construction.
The procurement of subcontractors and materials is critical to the success of waste minimisation. Ensuring that you order the correct materials and quantities is an effective method of reducing construction waste. Specify waste minimisation requirements for contractors when procuring their services. Require them to demonstrate good waste management practices when working for you and ask them for evidence of this. Don’t over-order materials. There is a common tendency in the make-to-order environment to order more materials than required for the job.
In construction we aim to promote awareness in environmental issues, best practice and use of recycled and reclaimed building materials. Promoting on-site awareness will contribute to minimise waste.
There are a few initiatives that could be applied to improve construction performance with regards to waste.
• We could predict the tonnage of construction and demolition waste from a project and set them out by material type.
• A method for construction and demolition audits and a waste management monitoring process that lists necessary procedures and corrective measures.
• Construction and demolition waste needs to be segregated and measures to raise awareness on the importance of waste minimization.
• Commitment that the waste materials will be used on-site wherever possible. If landfill is necessary it must be justified.
• Evidence that suitable provision is made for handling hazardous arising on-site.
The SWMP monitors resource management throughout the construction process, this includes the occupancy stage. Good construction site management can contribute to maximising waste minimization. This may include damage avoidance and first time success.
We need to demonstrate that waste collection advice has been obtained on recycling box / residual bin requirements, and there needs to be a commitment to provide recycling containers and user information. We also need to demonstrate that adequate access for waste collection vehicles and their operatives is provided and that there is sufficient space for residential recycling boxes, storage areas, composting bins and wheelie bins. Commercial waste will require recycling skips/bins and residual waste containers.
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS)is intended to help social landlords assess their housing stock. Separate guidance has been issued to Registered Social Landlords’ and local authorities.
Pre-planning and segregation processes can help maximise the amount of reclaimed materials and to practice good environmental conduct through waste minimisation.
A demolition contractor should be able to recycle extremely high levels of materials off site. However, their ability has been restricted by the economic and commercial pressures by Clients. Clients have the opportunity to commit entirely to recycling initiatives and the demolition contractors are able to help achieve their goals. On site segregation of materials regularly contributes to the sustainability of the project as well as providing cost reductions to the client.