Waste Management

Prevention and minimisation; Preparation for reuse; Recycling; CL:AIRE Code of Practice- Soils; Aggregates Quality Protocol, Site tools

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
  • 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.

Towards Zero Waste proposes waste prevention targets of 1.4% year on year reduction of waste arisings for C&D waste to 2050.  A set of priority materials have been identified within this sector (wood, plastic, metal, insulation & gypsum and hazardous waste).

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 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.


Design has a significant influence on the volume of waste that will be generated on a construction project. Complex designs can 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 the design stage. D4D identifies material selection as an opportunity to minimize/prevent waste whilst deconstructing a building.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Reuse – Using an object or material again, either for its original purpose or for a similar purpose, without significantly altering the physical form of the object or material.

Reuse is not recycling, because recycling alters the physical form of an object or material. Reuse is generally preferred to recycling because reuse generally consumes less energy and resources than recycling. This is why reuse comes higher up in the waste hierarchy. Waste is defined as material for which no use or reuse is intended. Thus, reuse prevents objects and materials from becoming waste. Therefore, reuse is considered to be a form of waste prevention.

 ‘Preparing for re-use’ relates to checking, cleaning or repairing activities which allow a waste substance, product or material to be re-used without any other pre-processing. For example, industrial machinery, clothes, electronic/electrical equipment and furniture can be repaired or refurbished and then sold on.

Preparation for reuse can be improved by the use of demolition plans to ensure resources such as bricks, blocks, window and doorframes etc are preserved, where practicable, for reuse; and increased provision of infrastructure to encourage partnerships for reuse between construction & demolition contractors and the third sector.

Increasing the preparation for reuse of items discarded as waste helps meet environmental outcomes, increases opportunities for enhancing social wellbeing through involvement in reuse activities and reduces the costs to businesses of waste management.

Separate targets for preparation for reuse have not been established because of a lack of data available on the potential for reuse in the construction and demolition sector. Therefore, preparation for reuse has been included in the targets established for recycling in Towards Zero Waste.


Material reuse should be considered during the planning and design phases in order to maximise reuse during construction. Recovery of building materials for reuse, as well as incorporation of reused materials in a new design, both help to close the loop of materials use. Designers, Architects, and Structural Engineers have the ability to both specify reused materials, and to design for deconstruction. In addition, deconstruction and reuse can contribute to a project’s satisfaction of construction waste diversion and resource reuse.


The legislative drivers for material re-use include EU policy, National policy, Waste Strategy, 2007,  Specifying reclaimed – WRAP, BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes from innovation to commercialization, planning guidance (national, regulation, local), public sector, council and project targets.


Reusing excavation materials on site can result in significant cost savings, particularly when the alternative is importing bulky materials from distant sources.  This could mean for example ensuring a cut and fill balance, stabilising soils using hydraulic binders, manufacturing quality soils by adding ‘green’ compost and remediating brownfield land in situ.

Contractors through site management have a major impact on reuse of materials during the construction phase. Up to 80 per cent of on-site construction materials is reusable including wood, metal, glass, plastic, slate, tiles, cardboard, fixtures and fittings, windows, doors and fixed furniture items. Some construction waste can be re-used directly on site, including topsoil and excavated rock for example for landscaping.


Millions of tonnes of building materials from demolition and remodels are currently sent to landfills every year, not serving any further purpose. On construction projects that require high levels of strip-out or demolition, you should plan how you could potentially reuse the waste. Demolition waste can often be reclaimed and reused as aggregates, and potentially (if care is taken during the demolition process) as whole materials – e.g the reuse of reclaimed bricks.

Performing a pre-demolition audit can help you to identify any materials that can be recovered for reuse within the project itself, or stockpiled for future construction projects. You should perform the audit at the design stage.

The first thing to determine is whether or not this project is a good one for salvage. Either you or a contracted salvage company can selectively remove materials such as doors, windows, architectural structures, cabinetry, sinks, and tubs before a full demolition.

A pre-demolition audit of existing buildings on a site can be used to identify waste arisings and how they might be used in a new development. A designated person should be responsible for waste management who can inform others of correct on site procedures including designated areas on the site to place recyclable materials such as wood, concrete, paintings, metal and materials, clear marking and place waste bins and containers for different materials. An inventory of waste materials should be kept to enable effective reuse or sale to other sites or processes. All workers should be aware of the site waste management process and why it is important.

Recycling is a resource recovery practice that refers to the collection and reuse of waste materials.

Recycling can encourage better segregation of waste to enable higher recycling rates and improved quality of recyclate and encourage the use of recycled materials and products as replacements for virgin materials, where viable.

Targets in the revised Waste Framework Directive

The Waste Framework Directive sets a target that by 2020, preparation for reuse, recycling and other material recovery, including backfilling operations using waste to substitute other materials of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste excluding naturally occurring material defined in category 17 05 04 in the list of waste shall be increased to a minimum of 70% by weight. In order to achieve the overall targets in Towards Zero Waste, the more easily recyclable materials need to be recycled at a higher rate.

Targets in EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC amended)

The EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste set minimum recovery targets (60%) and recycling targets (55%) for packaging waste, to be met by 31 December 2008.  The Directive also established material specific recycling targets for glass (60%), paper and board (60%), metals (50%), plastics (22.5%) and wood (15%).  Post 2008, Member States must continue to meet these minimum targets.

The UK has chosen to set higher targets via the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2010.


Local government has a vital role to play in building sustainable communities and renewing deprived neighbourhoods. This can be achieved through resourceful and innovative procurement and working with a diverse range of suppliers.

A realistic minimum commitment for contractors is to ensure a minimum of 15% of the total construction material value should be derived from reused and recycled materials in new build projects.  On infrastructure projects, values in excess of 50% may be achievable without increasing the cost of materials. WRAP’s Construction Procurement Guidance provides necessary guidance and maximizing recycling.

Setting a requirement for recycled content Identifies that requirements for minimum levels of reused and recycled content in projects is commercially sensible and achievable at no extra cost.

Delivering higher recycled content in construction projects shows that requiring projects to exceed a minimum level of recycled content is commercially sensible and achievable at no additional cost.

The Recycled Aggregate for Minor Schemes (RAMS) project looked at how this material could be used more effectively.


An important step for recycling of construction waste is on-site separation. Initially, this will be a time consuming process but once separation skills are established, on-site separation can be done at no or minimum cost.

When undertaking construction or demolition activities which requires the excavation or reuse of soils the CLAIRE Code Of Practice (CoP) should be considered.

The CLAIRE (CoP) is a voluntary framework for the use of excavated materials arising from remediation and/or development of land.

The CoP sets out good practice for the industry to use when:

  • Assessing if materials are classified as waste or not
  • Determining when treated waste can cease to be waste for a particular use

The CoP applies to excavated materials that are:

  • reused on the site of production
  • transferred between sites and reused directly without treatment*
  • transferred between sites and reused following treatment, as part of a Cluster project**

*Only clean naturally occurring soil and mineral based materials may be transported and re-used directly under the CoP. Materials requiring treatment (e.g. contaminated soils requiring remediation) can only be reused following treatment/recovery within a cluster project.
**A cluster project is where two or more sites use a shared treatment facility (a hub site) to help recover and re-use waste soils.

For more information on the CL:AIRE CoP please visit www.claire.co.uk

Aggregates from inert wastes resulting from construction, excavation and demolition projects are capable of being recycled into secondary aggregates that have ceased to be a waste if the voluntary Aggregates Quality Protocol (AQP)is followed.

  • Producers of waste aggregates can send their waste to a suitable authorised facility to be processed into recycled secondary aggregates.
  • Users of recycled secondary aggregates can use the materials as a non waste if they follow AQP

The production of recycled aggregate must:

  • Take place at a waste processing facility with an Environmental Permit to carry out that activity
  • Be restricted to the waste codes specified in the AQP
  • Must be produced in accordance with the Factory Production Control procedures for the site
  • Conform with CE marking requirements contained in the Construction Products Regulations, which apply to all aggregates placed on the market conforming to harmonised European Aggregates Standards from July 2013

The purpose of a Quality Protocol is to provide a uniform control process for producers, from which they can reasonably state and demonstrate that their product has been fully recovered and is no longer a waste. It also provides purchasers with a quality-managed product to common standards, which increases confidence in performance. 

For more information on the Aggregates Quality Protocols please go to Aggregates for Inert Waste