9 March 2011

Construction sector on track to halve landfill waste

The construction industry is on track to halve the amount of waste it sends to landfill by 2012, according to a progress report published today on WRAPs Construction Commitment.

The report provides the first indication of the impact signatories to the deal are having in curbing the amount of construction, demolition and excavation (CD&E) waste the industry sends to landfill each year, since the industry responsibility deal was launched in October 2008 (see letsrecycle.com story).

The construction section has made great strides in reducing waste to landfill, according to WRAP (picture: BAM Construction)

The construction section has made great strides in reducing waste to landfill, according to WRAP (picture: BAM Construction)

Signatories are encouraged to register their baseline and targets within WRAPs Waste to Landfill Reporting Portal.

The Portal integrates with WRAPs other tools to collect waste data from projects and allows signatories to monitor their corporate progress. The data from the Waste to Landfill Reporting Portal forms the basis of the Signatory Report 2011.

To date, the Signatory Report 2011 shows that 32 construction contractors have monitored and reported annual performance for their CD&E waste through the WRAP Waste to Landfill Reporting Portal. These companies consist of most of the UKs largest contractors and represent total construction annual spend in excess of 21 billion over the reporting period.

The combined figures for the 32 companies show an absolute decrease of 28% in the CD&E waste sent to landfill between 2008 and 2009. That is a drop from 3.1 million tonnes in 2008 to 2.2 million tonnes by year end 2009.

More than 15 million tonnes of CD&E waste is estimated to be landfilled across the entire UK each year and it accounts for more than a third of the UKs waste.


WRAP also measured the amount of waste sent to landfill per million pounds spent on construction (including refurbishment and demolition) for these same companies.

This indicator takes into account changes in construction activity which could have affected the absolute tonnage figures. The figures indicate a decrease of 44%; from 178 tonnes in 2008 to 100 tonnes in 2009.

Importantly, the data shows signatories are wasting less in the first place. There is a decrease in waste arising relative to construction spend of some 23%, an indication that companies are taking action to prevent waste being produced.


Lord Henley, waste and recycling minister, praised the dedication of those signed up.

“Architects, engineers and builders across the country are saving money and the environment”

Lord Henley

Speaking earlier today at a special meeting held in London to report this data to industry, he said: Architects, engineers and builders across the country are saving money and the environment by cutting down on throwing out valuable material.

Construction businesses, big and small, are now on board and making this happen, so Id challenge those not yet involved to also step up and see the real value that halving waste to landfill will bring.

Dr Liz Goodwin, WRAP chief executive, added: Todays Halving Waste to Landfill figures are just the beginning and give me confidence that industry is working hard and well on track to deliver the target by 2012.

In just over two years the Halving Waste to Landfill Commitment has gone from zero to influencing nearly 38 billion worth of construction projects. This demonstrates that the commitment requirements are being embedded within industry and this is delivering great results for business and the environment.


Signatories are reducing their waste to landfill through a range of measures including:

using their procurement process to set requirements for their supply chains;
designing out waste;
reducing wastage rates with more efficient material delivery logistics, storage and handling on site;
recovering more waste through improved segregation; and
working with more efficient waste management contractors

WRAP has produced a library of best practice Case Studies based on the actions of a large number of signatories which can be found here.

Overall responsibility for measuring industry progress towards the target of a 50% reduction in CD&E waste to landfill by 2012 rests with the Strategic Forum for Construction, which published the 2008 baseline for CD&E waste sent to landfill in England in March 2010[2].

Although these figures cannot be compared directly due to the very different approaches used to derive them, the figures unveiled today by WRAP are consistent with the reduction in CD&E waste to landfill identified by the Strategic Forum in their report on overall waste performance based on Environment Agency and landfill tax return data for England. To be published later this month.

The Strategic Forum report describes a decrease in CD&E waste going to landfill, for England alone, from 12.5 million tonnes to 9.7 million tonnes an absolute fall of 23%. After taking into account the change in total construction output over this period, this represents a 13% decrease from 2008 to 2009 in waste to landfill.

Taken together, the WRAP and Strategic Forum results show the significant steps the industry is taking in reducing its waste going to landfill and indicate that in the first year its on track to achieve the 50% reduction target by 2012.

At present, 602 signatories have signed the Halving Waste to Landfill Commitment, with 280 registered to use the WRAP Waste to Landfill Reporting Portal.


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