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The construction industry is responsible for 79.8* million tonnes of construction, demolition and excavation waste every year, which is about 1/3 of all waste produced in the UK. Of this, over 9.69 million tonnes goes straight to landfill. The Government’s Strategy for Sustainable Construction set a clear target for the industry to half its waste to landfill (HWTL) by 2012 from 2008 levels.
Almost 700 companies in the sector have signed up to work towards this commitment, but the challenge is now moving on with exemplar environmental practice now aiming for zero waste to landfill with new phrases such as upcycling and closed loop systems entering our language.
Achieving zero waste will make a positive contribution to the UK’s climate change (landfill accounts for 3% the UK’s CO2). It will also benefit renewable energy targets; indeed, the government has pledged to ensure that energy is recovered from 25% of the waste we produce by 2020. As more waste is prevented, less waste is sent to landfill, and more resources are reused, recycled and recovered.
A zero waste society is also good for business, as we become more resource efficient, costs are reduced and a competitive advantage is gained.
From a supply chain perspective many larger contractors and clients are already including waste reporting and reduction requirements within their subcontract documentation. As of the end of March 2011, some £43 billion of construction projects - out of a total annual construction output of £100 billion - included requirements for diverting waste from landfill.
*(Estimated total of construction, demolition and excavation waste the industry produced in 2010 - Defra, WRAP and the SFfC waste sub-group)
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