How to Avoid the Pain of Noncompliant Construction Waste
A specialist partner can help your business stay compliant with complex and rapidly changing construction waste management regulations.
Courts are increasingly willing to hit construction businesses hard for mismanaging their waste, by levying punitive fines. During a recent case in Milton Keynes, magistrates handed one company the maximum penalty, totalling more than £6,000, after it received a visit from the town’s Environmental Crime Unit.
The strict application of malpractice rules means that problems with construction waste management can take a serious toll on businesses, both financially and in terms of their reputation. These perils are set to increase, as Brexit adds another layer of complexity to a shifting regulatory environment.
Waste and your Duty of Care
Construction waste management is heavily regulated, and regulations nearly always mean a burden in the form of time and money. The area is also patchily understood, and 56% of UK businesses don’t currently comply fully with their legal responsibilities.
There are a number of key issues of which your company needs to be aware.
Firstly you need to know how waste is defined legally. The UK government updated its guidance in 2016. The broad rule is that, if it’s going to be discarded or recycled and recovered, it qualifies as waste. The same applies if it doesn’t meet all the requirements of the ‘by-product test’.
Under the Environmental Protection Act, your business has a ‘duty of care’ to ensure that it produces, stores, transports and disposes of controlled waste without harming the environment. This responsibility includes specific requirements for record-keeping, waste segregation and safe storage.
Your company’s duty of care isn’t subject to a time limit, the accountability for waste extends throughout the management chain and the business is responsible for ensuring that whoever handles its waste is properly authorised to do so.
Domestic and EU legislation imposes extra responsibilities for dealing with hazardous waste, including the necessity for detailed paperwork.
Companies must keep additional records under the European Waste Framework Directive and take specific measures to monitor and control hazardous waste. They’re also required to pay careful attention whenever these wastes are mixed, either with each other or with non-hazardous substances.
In April 2016, the UK government issued fresh regulations to businesses in England for reporting hazardous waste. Companies must produce a consignment note when they move the waste – which includes the first six letters of your organisation name and a unique five character identifier – and ensure that the waste can be traced back to the business.
Navigating regulations successfully
To make sure that your workforce, including subcontractors and suppliers, are dealing with construction waste management compliantly, it is highly recommended to draft a site waste management plan or SWMP. Although SWMPs are no longer compulsory for construction work in England, they are often considered best practice, and are required for many BREEAM assessments or by local planning authorities.
The management plan will lay out how construction materials will be managed and disposed of throughout a project, with detailed estimates for each type of waste and proposals for its recycling and reuse. An SWMP gives the client confidence in your ability to deliver environmentally responsible work, and helps protect your business’s reputation.
A reliable partner
The regulatory environment for construction waste management is complex and rapidly shifting. Businesses that operate across the UK face further challenges, because different laws apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland compared with England and Wales. Brexit raises the possibility of more changes, as the government reviews the status of EU regulations.
Managing construction waste is a complicated, time-consuming process, with many pitfalls for non-specialists. Getting it wrong carries risks of substantial fines and a damaged reputation, that can hit a company’s bottom line. Businesses that partner with a waste management specialist will have peace of mind, with the burden of compliance handled by experts.
A specialist partner means that you can save time and money, while your company maintains a reputation for competent, environmentally-friendly waste management.
- Courts are increasingly prepared to levy punitive fines for non-compliant construction waste management. How can your business avoid the financial pain?
- 56% of UK businesses don’t comply fully with construction waste management regulations. Make sure your company has brushed up on the essentials.
- A specialist partner will help you save time and money, as well as enhancing your reputation for competent, environmentally-friendly waste management.