Wales in move away from landfill for construction waste

The Welsh regulator, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), has reported that 90% of the nation’s construction and demolition waste was sent for reuse, recycling or recovery in 2019.

The Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste Survey was produced for the Welsh government and estimated that 3.4 million tonnes of construction waste were produced in Wales in 2019.

NRW explained that the surveyed sample comprised of 508 businesses of varying sizes from a range of construction sectors throughout Wales between April 2021 and September 2021.

The body added that the accuracy of the study has been improved given higher levels of participation in key sectors and adopting lessons learnt from previous surveys.

Of this, 90% of the generated waste was reportedly sent for re-use, recycling or recovery. NRW didn’t provide a further breakdown of the statistics.


Across the UK, Defra’s statistics on waste show around 67.8 million tonnes of C&D waste is generated in the UK, with the most recent 2018 rate sitting at 93.3%. This accounts for around three fifths (62%) of total waste in the UK.

However, Defra has warned that accurately quantifying C&D waste is “challenging”, but says it is more confident on the recovery rate.

How the data is recorded across the UK also differs.

In England, estimates are dependent on several key assumptions relating to the role of permitted sites, simple registrations and the volume of aggregate production.

The Welsh government hopes this survey will help improve data, a similar approach taken by Scotland.

And, within the UK, some C&D waste is transferred across borders for treatment, primarily into England. This may slightly inflate the England recovery rate and deflate rates for devolved administrations.

Surveys like this one are an important measuring tool

– John Fry, lead specialist advisor waste policy for NRW



According to NRW, the survey found that “most construction waste was produced by civil engineering constructions (36%), with the general and domestic building sectors tying for second place (16% each)”.

The remaining six construction sectors, including highway construction and commercial buildings, accounted for less than 10%.

John Fry, lead specialist advisor waste policy for NRW, said: “Using Wales’ resources sustainably is at the heart of everything we do and we’re incredibly proud of the fact that Wales is such a high recycling nation. Surveys like this one are an important measuring tool and it’s encouraging to see the construction and demolition industry treating waste as a resource and sending less to landfill.”

He added that despite the great results, more work is to be done, including reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place.

Mr Fry concluded that the survey has outlined further opportunities for improvement.

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