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Construction waste and things to consider when employing contractors

By 29th November 2016 Blog, CSR, Sustainability No Comments

Having some work done? Got a contractor in to build something new or tear something down? It’s bound to create waste, here are some things you need to consider when employing construction contractors

Together, construction and demolition activities are responsible for a huge amount of waste every year in the UK.

Whether it’s an office revamp, an entirely new building, the installation of a new manufacturing line, or the dismantling of structures that you no longer require, it all creates waste and with that comes two things you need to have a good handle on as the client commissioning the works: indirect and direct costs.

Managing the indirect costs of construction waste

If you put sustainability at the heart of your plans, and then ensure that this is cascaded throughout the entire value chain, you’ll find that you’ll minimise both the environmental and monetary costs of your project.

There’s more about this in our guide: Getting Serious About Sustainability and CSR in Construction

Managing the direct costs of construction waste

You’ve got your designs in place and now you need someone to execute the works, so you put a construction or demolition contract out to tender. The bids come in and everyone quotes for the removal and disposal of any waste that arises. In practice, what often happens is that your selected contractor will use your existing site waste infrastructure instead, but in some cases they may still charge you for the provision of waste removal services (deliberately or otherwise).

There are two ways to avoid this. You can either:

(1) make sure it’s clearly stipulated and agreed in writing that they have responsibility for making their own arrangements for the waste generated by their work, and then ensure they provide you with appropriate evidence of waste removal to support invoiced costs. At the same time, pay close attention to your regular site waste removal quantities and frequencies – if there’s a spike, it could be a sign that construction waste from your project is not being handled how it should be and you need to investigate; or

(2) agree that you will arrange additional skips etc for the project and bear the full costs yourselves, where your selected contractor doesn’t charge you for any waste-related costs at all.

Ensuring accountability

Responsibility for carrying out the necessary waste management tasks should fall to the relevant contractors and sub-contractors. Such tasks should be written into the terms of contracts to ensure understanding and accountability at all levels (this is consistent with changes in waste legislation that have removed the defence of acting under the instructions of an employer).

As the commissioning client, you must give any reasonable directions to your selected construction contractor that are necessary to ensure compliance, for example, in setting contractual obligations.

The construction contractor should be tasked with ensuring that workers on the site are aware of any plans for dealing with waste and that they co-operate with such plans. This will include providing suitable site induction, information and training.

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