The amount of waste we produce is linked directly to the number of construction sites that we have. The more work we do, the more waste we produce. We are a growing business, and so our target – of reducing construction waste by 15% by 2015 compared with 2012, is expressed in terms of intensity – that is – the amount of waste we produce in relation to project value.

It is important to note that our target relates simply to construction waste, because we have limited control over waste which comes from demolishing existing buildings or excavating sites. This waste may be classified as hazardous, and therefore not suitable for recycling. However we aim to re-use waste from both demolition and excavation activities wherever we can.

Our longer-term ambition is to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2020.

Managing waste

We aim to manage waste on our sites in the most efficient way by encouraging re-use and re-cycling on-site, and maximising segregation.

Though site waste management plans are no longer a legislative requirement, we continue to use them to help us create resource efficiency action plans for our construction projects.

Our 10-Point Sustainable Project Criteria, implemented across all Willmott Dixon sites, include targets for construction waste volumes.

We upload our waste monitoring data onto our Environmental Data System (EDS), and we use the system to report the waste generated on the project, and the quantity diverted from landfill through recycling and recovery can be reported. We also upload our anonymised data to the WRAP Construction Portal.

Each of our sites has a waste champion, and our Environmental Managers regularly visit sites to audit operations and ensure procedures to minimise the environmental impact of operations. They also review the site's energy and waste data.

Each of our local company offices has developed its own waste action plan to which forms their contribution towards our Group targets and ambitions.

Designing out waste

Waste is a consideration right at the very beginning of a project, so we use Building Information Modelling Management (BIMM) to avoid costly mistakes in time and resources. “Designing Out Waste” workshops are now held for all Willmott Dixon Capital Works projects. As a result of a 2013 collaboration with partners as part of the BIS Technology Strategy Board Programme, we have developed an IMPACT tool which helps us undertake whole life analysis and whole life costing on different materials so we select the right ones for the job.

Recycled content

We are working towards a 100% landfill diversion rate, so we recognise the need to ‘close the loop’ by specifying materials with higher recycled content, since this will support markets for the materials we and others send for recycling. This also helps to reduce the quantities of materials we send to landfill, and the amount of virgin materials we use.

Working with suppliers

We work with product suppliers to apply the waste hierarchy to the management of waste materials and encourage re-use ahead of recycling and recovery, for example making use of discarded furniture and the repair and repatriation of pallets. These initiatives are improving our management of waste and increasing diversion from landfill, as well as helping us reduce costs.

Where re-use is not possible, we work with suppliers to develop and identify take-back schemes, and we keep a comprehensive list of these for our site teams to use. The list and accompanying guidance helps our design teams understand where ‘closed loop’ takeback schemes are available, and gives our project teams an understanding of which products and materials they can send directly back to manufacturers. A suite of toolbox talks, posters and guidance notes are available within our Environmental Management System.

Our Environmental Data System allows us to identify waste streams that are still difficult to divert from landfill, and we work with manufacturers to trial alternatives and implement takeback schemes when no alternative has been identified.

Waste contractors

All our waste contractors must complete a pre-qualification questionnaire to assess that they meet our standards, before they can become approved and listed within our Supply Chain System. This asks that they report their performance in accordance with PAS 402 (a specification for performance reporting for waste management organisations) in accordance with our Sustainable Procurement Policy. We carry out a detailed on-site audit on their premises, so we can be sure that they have the right segregation capabilities and can meet our data return requirements. We check their documentation for duty of care compliance and view working conditions for their employees.