Taking the rubbish out of waste

According to the DEFRA website, in 2010 total construction and demolition waste in England amounted to some 77.4 million tonnes.  Of this, 53 million tonnes were recycled, 11 million tonnes were spread on exempt sites and the rest went to landfill.  Whilst the proportion of recycled construction waste is climbing, there is still a long way to go is we are to come near to the Government’s vision of a  “zero waste economy” in which material resources are re-used, recycled or recovered wherever possible, and only disposed of as the option of very last resort.”*

One construction company decided to meet the challenge head on and set themselves a target of achieving zero waste by 2013. To achieve their aims Kier Construction – Northern decided to partner with Premier Waste UK on a shared costs and rewards basis.  By the end of 2011 the project had reduced landfill waste to just 2% with 43,860 tonnes of waste being recycled.  In the process 180 tonnes of timber was diverted to the National Wood recycling project, CO2 emissions reduced and 3,600 pallets were repatriated, not to mention considerable cost savings achieved.

Headlining the project was the design of a bespoke website which gives specific project reports and predictions in respect of waste streams and CO2 usage.  This has helped to not only predict the amount of waste generated but also to drive down the waste which is sent to landfill.  Kier Construction are working on the remaining 2% and it is hoped that by partnering with a local heat recovery incineration facility waste levels will soon fall by a further 1.6% or more.

But Kier Construction’s focus is not simply on managing its own waste.  The Kier Group’s corporate responsibility mission is to “deliver a brighter future for our communities” and in line with this Kier Construction  – Northern set up a local community project called Connect.   With employees able to take time off to help, local projects include supporting the elderly in their homes, supporting schools by building play areas or safe fencing and renewing railings and gates around a local community church.  The company also sent a container to Pakistan following the floods which contained materials to build three family huts and repair a school.

For its recycling initiatives and its work within the community both within the UK and overseas Kier Construction – Northern is an example of the way in which businesses can make a difference  and still save money.  We were therefore pleased to give Kier Construction – Northern a Green Apple Award.

* http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13540-waste-policy-review110614.pdf