Rise in excavation waste scuppers industry landfill targets
The construction industry is on course to meet its target of halving construction and demolition waste going to landfill but looks like missing out in regard to excavation waste.
In fact the overall volume of landfill waste generated by the construction industry has actually increased despite the industry’s best efforts.
The Strategic Forum for Construction set up a waste subgroup in 2008 with the target of reducing the amount of construction, demolition and excavation (CD&E) waste going to landfill by 50% by 2012. In 2011/12 the work of the subgroup began to be absorbed into the activities of the Green Construction Board. Waste data for 2010 have now been analysed and show only two of the three waste streams to be on course to be halved.
The amount of construction and demolition waste going to landfill was cut by 1.87m tonnes by 2010.
But excavation waste going to landfill - primarily soil and stones - increased by 2.4m tonnes.
The 2010 figures show that, in absolute terms, the amount of CD&E waste landfilled has increased by 2.58m tonnes to 12.27m tonnes compared to 2009 - an increase of 27%.
Compared to the 2008 baseline year, the amount of CD&E waste landfilled fell 2%.
The 2008 baseline is 133 tonnes of CD&E waste landfilled/£ million construction output.
In 2009, the amount of CD&E waste landfilled decreased to 116 tonnes/£ million construction output. However, in 2010, the amount of CD&E waste landfilled increased to 135 tonnes of CD&E waste landfilled/£ million construction output.
The cause of the spike in excavation waste is not yet known but a number of theories are being investigated. These include changes in exemptions available under the new environmental permitting regulations that now have much lower tonnage thresholds for the reuse of soils and stones on construction sites. In 2010 there were a number of major projects producing large volumes of excavated material and these could have had a significant impact on the data. Another suggestion is that the decline in domestic waste going to landfill has accelerated the closure of a number of less profitable landfill sites and inert material, such as soils and stones, is required to fill the voids and restore these sites.
Chairman of the waste subgroup Peter Johnson of Kier said: “We are very pleased with the progress being made across the industry in reducing construction and demolition waste to landfill although we are naturally disappointed that the large increase in soils and stones is hindering the delivery of our overarching target of reducing construction, demolition and excavation waste to landfill by 50% by 2012 based on a 2008 baseline.”
Details of the statistics can be found at: http://www.strategicforum.org.uk/waste.shtml
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This article was published on 31 Jul 2012 (last updated on 1 Aug 2012).