The rank of recovery
14 July 2010
The MoD has grasped the chance to do its bit for the green agenda, as Barry Martynski, Project Manager for WRAP, reveals…
As the third largest landowner in the country, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) contributes significantly to government-industry policy goals for sustainable construction. The MoD has seized the opportunity to set a best practice example through the creation of its Sustainable Development Strategy. Reducing, re-using and recovering more waste from construction and maintenance projects on the MoD estate is one specific means in which environmental leadership is being achieved.Waste to landfill
The recent Copenhagen conference has helped to keep carbon reduction at the forefront of the political agenda. For the construction sector, the really pivotal message relates to the cost savings that sustainability can offer in an increasingly competitive market. Studies show that by minimising the amount of Construction, Demolition and Excavation (CD&E) waste generated and sent to landfill, MoD estates teams could benefit from savings of up to 1.5% of total construction costs on their projects and minor works programmes – particularly when waste is reduced and re-used – while also cutting the significant loss of carbon embodied in the manufacture of wasted material.
In recognition of the benefits on offer, governments in England, Scotland and Wales have all endorsed action to halve the amount of CD&E waste sent to landfill by 2012 relative to 2008. Waste & Resources Action Programme's (WRAP) voluntary agreement – the 'Construction Commitments: Halving Waste to Landfill' – has been developed to support the entire construction industry as it works to reach this policy milestone, an approach that has been endorsed by Defence Estates, which has signed the Commitment and agreed a voluntary Charter on waste reduction with its Supplier Association..Taking action
The environmental and cost savings that waste reduction and recovery can offer are significant, and Defence Estates' Regional Prime Contractor East is demonstrating just what can be achieved when waste is considered systematically at every stage of the construction and maintenance process. Babcock DynCorp was the joint venture contractor awarded the Regional Prime Contract (RPC) in 2005, and is responsible for building works and facilities management at 47 MoD establishments.
By including waste management criteria as an essential element of the suppliers' pre-qualification process, the contractor ensured that measuring and managing performance on waste became the norm. 20 of the major suppliers are continually assessed against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which include contribution to waste minimisation, compliance with Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs), and reporting of data.Working together for change
It is through collaborative working across the entire supply chain that reducing waste to landfill can be most effective. In the case of RPC East, the contractor works with its framework suppliers to drive continuous improvement in waste performance. Training is provided on waste management including WRAP's tools for forecasting and designing out waste, and employees learn about waste reduction through regular toolbox talks. Client and suppliers also came together to share knowledge and discuss future plans to support the green agenda at a Sustainability Conference held by RPC East in May 2009.
This collaborative approach is particularly evident in maintenance works, where targets have been agreed between the main contractor and Waste Management Contractors (WMCs). Working closely with WMCs has enabled an increase in recycling rates and improvement in the reporting of waste data.
Measurement and reporting to improve performance
To tailor waste management services to project needs, it is crucial that performance is planned and monitored effectively. In line with this, RPC East capital works (above £2,500 in value) follow a specific procedure, set out in a project manual. Following a sustainability appraisal (carried out at a level of detail commensurate with project size), the project team will carry out a design option review and develop a SWMP incorporating defined KPIs, as the precursor to systematic data capture and corporate reporting.Results and key lessons learned
Assessing waste performance and implementing measures to improve reduction, re-use and recovery has enabled real, significant savings for Defence Estates and its RPCs. WRAP has developed an online Reporting Portal to enable signatories to the Halving Waste to Landfill agreement to record their waste performance and secure similar benefits. This portal not only enables analysis of industry progress towards waste reduction targets, but also gives signatories an opportunity to demonstrate their own progress and improvement in reducing and recovering more waste. Since initiating and recording action on waste, figures from the RPC East contractor revealed that waste recovery had increased by 34%, rising to a quarterly recycling rate of 87% in Financial Year 08/09. For example, on maintenance works, savings of £10,000-12,000 per year on disposal cost were achieved through greater segregation of waste on-site into higher value streams. Moreover, the cost savings from sending less waste to landfill will continue to grow as the Landfill Tax rate climbs over the next few years.
Some of the key lessons learned at RPC East include:
• Waste data should be recorded accurately and regularly, for example, through use of the Reporting Portal – the quality of data has improved by including measurement and reporting requirements for contractors and suppliers at the Pre-Qualification and Invitation to Tender stages;
• Best results can be achieved when waste strategies are tailored for different types of works. Approaches to waste management have been modified accordingly to the different challenges and opportunities of different project sizes, a tailoring that has enabled individual benchmarking of waste arisings, improved waste reduction and recovery performance, and the collection of more accurate data; and
• Applying best value rather than lowest cost solutions allows better waste reduction and recovery, and offers greater cost and environmental savings.Start as you mean to go on
As RPC East demonstrates, client teams, their managing agents, and prime contractors should all take action from the outset, by setting tender and contract requirements to ensure suppliers are capable of reducing waste and committed to measurement and reporting.
Clear requirements and performance standards for waste reduction, re-use and recovery should be introduced when procuring new buildings, infrastructure and minor works such as refurbishment. For those looking to benefit from this approach, model procurement wording helps clients ensure good practice during the appointment of designers and contractors. Similarly, it is from the early design stages that clients and their project teams should plan to meet requirements for SWMPs and also mandate their design teams to reduce waste through design.
SWMPs have been mandatory on all projects of value over £300,000 in England since 2008, and the client and main contractor are jointly responsible. To support the industry in going beyond minimum compliance with SWMP regulations, WRAP has developed a template for creating a good practice SWMP. Another tool to help identify cost savings at the design stage is a Net Waste Tool, which helps project teams forecast their waste, identify the top opportunities to reduce waste and re-use recovered material, and quantify the potential for cutting costs.
There are specific tools across the entire supply chain to meet the industry need for more robust data. The Site Specific Waste Analysis Tool (SSWAT) was created to measure recovery rates of construction, demolition and excavation waste (CDEW) at waste transfer stations and material recovery facilities. Template wording is available for WMCs to demonstrate their ability to support clients in the delivery of waste targets.
The work the MoD has done on RPC East demonstrates clearly their standing as an industry leader actively pursuing the government-industry target of halving CD&E waste to landfill by 2012. By reducing, re-using and recovering waste on construction projects, the MoD, and its supply chain partners, are able to secure significant cost and environmental savings, as well as maintaining their reputation. The entire public sector needs to be mindful of the importance of construction efficiency, now more than ever, and the MoD's commitment to resource efficiency is an excellent example of good working practice that others can readily adopt.