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Understanding and Predicting Construction Waste - WR0111

The main objective of this work was to understand and be able to predict construction, demolition and refurbishment waste more effectively. This was done through developing national standards for construction waste measurement, reporting and generation. These data can be used in a number of ways in both supporting government policies on sustainable use of resources and enabling the construction industry to become more resource efficient. The ability to predict the amount and type of waste likely to arise across all construction sectors is the first step to minimising waste (e.g. through having waste targets in contracts), and maximising resource use (e.g. through matching supply of ‘waste’ with reprocessing capabilities in a region). Policy relevance is multiple in supplying critical data to the developing Code for Sustainable Building, supporting the new Sustainable Development strategy, decoupling of waste production from economic growth, and helping UK business become more competitive.

The composition of construction, demolition and refurbishment waste varies according to the construction sector and type of building. There are very limited data available upon which to base this statement beyond anecdotal evidence and ad hoc projects as indicated below. However, knowing the typical composition/quantity of waste being generated across these ranges is a very powerful tool for predicting likely waste arisings, setting targets for reduction and planning for reprocessing/recovery facilities. The construction industry is starting to collect these data as a means of satisfying client demand, developing actions to reduce waste and for environmental reporting. Unfortunately, this effort is not being capitalised as data are being collected using different and incompatible methods or not collated at all. This project provides some basic guidelines for waste reporting, a collation point for construction waste data and a means of automatically interpreting and displaying the accumulated data in user friendly ways. The project outcomes provide self updating benchmarks across the sector and a means of predicting waste generation on a site, company, Local Authority, regional and national scale.
a) Develop and define basic reporting requirements for construction, demolition and refurbishment waste. This is needed to open the data collecting exercise to anyone already involved in doing so whilst retaining an element of control over minimum information levels that have to be inputted to be meaningful.

b) Collect benchmarking data across all the construction sector on construction, demolition and refurbishment waste in terms of quantity and composition of waste. Remove or improve any erroneous data. This is needed to populate data across the construction sector, for different building types and phases of construction.

c) Convert these data into self updating environmental performance indicators for construction type and sector. A long term data collection project is required and more data will improve the confidence with which this information can be used to predict future arisings. Therefore, the software needs to be able to accumulate data, remove invalid data and automatically update the relevant benchmarks for any particular sector or building type. This provision will also instil an element of comparing performance and continuous improvement, as (hopefully), benchmark levels can be seen to reduce over time.

d) Work with contractors, planning and regulatory authorities to use data collected to model and predict waste arisings on a site, company, local, regional and national scale. The ability to predict waste arisings is critical to reducing waste arisings, through moving the industry towards less wasteful building technologies and encouraging action to be taken before construction, demolition or refurbishment commences.

e) Develop key recommendations for waste reducing activities based upon the data collected and subsequent modelling i.e. where the biggest impacts and gains are. This will further help DEFRA and other organisations target the construction sector in terms of waste minimisation.

f) Ensure key stakeholders are bought into the process and inputting any suitable waste data being collected. This is essential to ensure adequate levels of data are collected to be statistically viable. This will also help define what industry needs are in this area and produce key recommendations.

g) Disseminate widely to the construction, resource management and planning sectors. This is needed to increase levels of data collection and use of the subsequent benchmarking data and waste prediction tools.
Project Documents
• Final Report : WR0111 “Understanding and predicting construction waste” – Final report   (339k)
• Final Report - Annex : WR0111 “Understanding and predicting construction waste” – Annex 1: Analysis of construction, refurbishment and demolition waste data   (633k)
• Final Report - Annex : WR0111 “Understanding and predicting construction waste” – Annex 2: Key recommendations and modelling for waste reduction   (222k)
• Final Report - Annex : WR0111 “Understanding and predicting construction waste” – Annex 3: Benchmarks for predicting and forecasting construction waste   (232k)
• Final Report - Annex : WR0111 “Understanding and predicting construction waste” – Annex 4: Policymakers – how the data can be used   (137k)
• Final Report - Annex : WR0111 “Understanding and predicting construction waste” – Annex 5: Planning – how the data can be used   (143k)
• Final Report - Annex : WR0111 “Understanding and predicting construction waste” – Annex 6: Client and designers – how the data can be used   (141k)
• Final Report - Annex : WR0111 “Understanding and predicting construction waste” – Annex 7: Contractors – how the data can be used   (142k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2010

Cost: £226,355
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Building Research Establishment Ltd
Environmental Protection              
Establishing a sound database for waste management              
Manufacturing Efficiency              
Policy Development              
Renewable materials              
Sustainable Consumption and Production              
Sustainable Development              
Sustainable Resource Consumption and Management              
Understanding resource flows              
Understanding waste composition and trends              
Waste Management              
Fields of Study
Waste Management