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The construction industry is the principal source of waste in the UK, producing 35% of the country’s total waste, according to DEFRA’s most recent data (Figure 1). The opportunities for the sector to improve resource efficiency and reduce waste disposal costs are significant.

UK construction waste

Figure 1: Total UK waste generation by sector, 2004 to 2008 (tonnes) (Data from DEFRA, 2011)
*’Other’ includes healthcare wastes, batteries & accumulators, and wastes containing PCB.


Typical types of construction waste

Figure 2: Typical construction waste types by volume (measured data from RHC and BRE)


Below are five key steps for reducing construction site waste:

1. Design out waste – resource efficiency needs to be considered from planning and design stages throughout the project.

2. Measure to manage – a greater understanding of quantity, type and cause of waste is fundamental to monitoring performance and driving change.

3. Engage the whole supply chain – set out waste minimisation targets at tendering stage and include in contracts with suppliers and site teams.

4. Separate specific waste streams – clearly mark segregated skips in an accessible area.

5. Employ good housekeeping practices on site – make waste a key site improvement target from the start of the project.