How to Get the Most Volume in your Skip

26 Oct 2016 by Paul Cox

By addressing volume issues associated with skip hire, disposing of waste can actually boost your business.

Waste management is at a premium on construction sites, as the sector struggles to deal with the 109m tonnes of construction waste it generates every year - that’s 33% of total waste in the UK and 45% of the country’s overall CO2 emissions. While handling waste responsibly is crucial for environmental reasons, there is also a very real business case to be made for introducing an efficient waste management policy. Once you’ve chosen the right skip hire company, you need to think about how you deploy and fill those skips.

Such a common piece of equipment on site may seem like the most unlikely of allies for protecting your bottom line, but construction site managers are increasingly embracing innovative techniques to maximise the volume potential of their on-site skips, and generating significant savings in the process. From the efficient disposal of light mixed waste (LMW) and wood to plasterboard, more efficient skip utilisation can produce cost savings of up to 30% if skip volumes and waste streams are fully optimised.

Segregating Waste

Before tackling the specific issue of skip volumes, the creation of a coherent segregation strategy for skip usage is essential. Instead of an ad-hoc approach, progressive managers are now considering skip hire and usage issues at the project planning stage. A waste compound area accessible throughout working hours by collection vehicles should be highlighted on the site plan, so that once work on site begins, skips can be dedicated to different types of waste material.

To avoid cross-contamination, the waste compound should be restricted to key personnel and designated fork lift drivers, and secure fencing deployed to surround the compound with signage above each skip that clearly labels the waste materials allowed in each. Typically, skip segregation itself is divided between LMW/compactable, inert/clean, timber, mixed wood, plasterboard and hazardous wastes, ensuring more efficient recycling/reuse processes, reduced costs over the lifetime of a project and more potential efficiencies.

Adopting such an approach has paid dividends for major construction companies. For instance, Balfour Beatty has deployed a far-reaching optimisation strategy across several of its builds. During a school construction project, it replaced a single 40-yard mixed waste skip with several skips, which allowed for the segregation of metal, wood and plasterboard waste materials from one another. By optimising waste streams, Balfour Beatty benefited from savings of over £7,500 and a landfill diversion rate of 94%.

Increasing Volume

With a full segregation strategy in place, the issue of skip volumes can now be addressed. Regulations state that waste must not exceed the walls of the skip – because it creates a risk when the skips are being picked up. Also, they mustn’t exceed maximum weight restrictions because it won’t be physically possible to load the skip and take it off-site, and it would also pose a threat to both drivers and pedestrians when the filled skips are in transit.

While such health and safety regulations are important, they constrain the maximum volume available in each and every skip, an issue compounded further by the fact that half of a full skip’s volume is typically taken up by air. To combat these issues, more attention must be given to how segregated waste is loaded into its assigned skip in the first place.

This should include breaking down packaging and cardboard properly, reducing the size of off-cuts, dismantling pallets and condensing materials down once they are loaded into the skip. Where applicable, site managers should also consider using on-site compaction equipment to aid in skip volume optimisation.

Reaching Out

To help boost skip usage efficiency even further, companies should consider bringing a reputable waste management specialist onboard who can drive up skip efficiency on a number of key fronts:

  • Monitoring and measuring of waste streams

  • Disseminating up-to-date best practices in waste management to site personnel

  • Putting in place site liaison officers to guarantee the efficiency of core waste streams

  • Offering competitive rates on skip hire from mini through to maxi skips.

By adopting such forward-thinking waste management strategies, construction companies can boost their efficiency and drive down costs while ensuring the sector’s impact on the environment is reduced. In an industry where margins are increasingly being squeezed and material prices are set to increase, even skip hire and how skips are used can help your business protect profits now and in the future.

Takeaways:

  • Segregate different types of waste into predesignated skips to create efficient waste streams instead of relying on a 'one-size-fits-all' approach.

  • Maximise a skip's capacity by breaking, tearing up and packing any waste properly, in turn removing the air that can consume skip volume.

  • Bring on board a specialist to produce an effective waste management policy that addresses every aspect of waste disposal including skip usage.

Learn how to create a cost-efficient waste management policy. Download: The Ultimate Waste Management Toolkit for the Construction Manager

Download: The Ultimate Waste Management Toolkit for the Construction Manager