Waste management audits are a great opportunity to reduce the costs of a major area of construction expenditure
With all construction companies anxious to stay on top of costs, waste management audits represent a golden opportunity to quantify costs in an area where simple savings can deliver quick financial wins.
Such audits involve assessing the amount, nature and composition of the waste that a project produces, as well as identifying how this waste is generated and subsequently managed. Audits can be carried out several times over the course of a project, with a final audit undertaken at or close to completion.
Construction companies that know exactly what waste they’re producing and how, will be in a strong position to take control of waste management. That’s crucial as they seek to build credibility with clients and other stakeholders, for whom waste is often a significant issue. Moreover, lessons learned on one project can often inform future engagements, and even help win new work with more accurate tender projections.
In practice, the waste management audit will consist of several different processes:
1. Set baseline measures and project forecasts
There is no longer any legal requirement, even for large construction projects, to prepare Site Waste Management Plans, but putting an SWMP in place is still considered best practice by leading construction companies. This is because it will set out a blueprint for recording the volume of waste created on site, and documents how it will be disposed of, recycled or reused.
Waste management audits are an important part of such plans, and you should aim to set benchmarks for measuring performance. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) at this stage, which may include, for example:
tonnes of waste for each £100,000 of construction value
tonnes of waste for each 100 square metres of floor space
percentage of waste diverted from landfill
percentage of recycled content (by value of materials) achieved.
Also, make sure you have good record-keeping systems in place that allow you to note and retain all audit results, including consignment notes, details of waste produced, storage records and any other relevant data.
Putting this in place should give your project an important head start. It allows you to control waste management right from the beginning, including setting the most demanding targets possible for the project. This will also force you to think about waste reduction at the earliest stage – in particular, are you ordering the right amount of materials for the project and do you have processes in place for reusing or recycling materials wherever possible, avoiding the need for expensive landfill?
This is also the moment to conduct safety assessments and to make sure that all site staff understand the waste management policies the project will follow. Doing this reduces the scope for accidents, unnecessary environmental damage and unexpected difficulties with, say, hazardous waste. It will also help you establish professional relationships with clients, contractors and other stakeholders.
- Waste management audits should be a key part of every construction project, as they are a great opportunity to quantify this major area of expense.
- Those construction companies that take control of waste management will be in a strong position to build credibility with clients and other stakeholders, for whom waste is often a significant issue.
- Waste management audits are an important part of Site Waste Management Plans, and should include benchmarks against which you can measure performance.