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Case 1: Simons Construction

SUSTAINABILITY

ALTHOUGH in theory waste minimisation comes before waste management, the philosophy adopted by Simons Construction tackles the issue the other way round.

'We start by putting waste management programmes in place on site, ' says Barry Smith, the firm's environment manager.

'The first step is to separate the waste streams generated on each job. This makes it easier to ident ify the potential recycled value of each material or the cost of disposing of it, ' he adds.

According to Mr Smith, the general principle is to apply a 20-40-60 rule by separating waste into three skips - general mixed, inert, and mixed metals - plus one for hazardous waste. 'This generates a 20 per cent reduction in total waste, a 40 per cent reduction in the cost of disposal and a 60 per cent reduction in material sent to landfill, ' he explains.

This process is then the starting point for people to notice how the waste is being generated and to focus on minimisation. 'They start to think: 'If I did this, then we wouldn't have that waste in the first place, ' or: 'If I stored the bricks better we wouldn't throw so many cracked bricks away and wouldn't need to buy as many', ' he adds.

As Mr Smith points out, the cost benefits of this realisation are clear. 'Waste disposal costs around 0.4 per cent of the total cost of a project, but the original purchase value of the materials that end up in a skip is 10 to 20 t imes this, so by tackling waste product ion you can be making a saving on not just 0.4 per cent by value of a project but 4 to 8 per cent.'