Site waste – it's criminal
A simple guide to Site Waste Management Plans
10m tonnes of construction products are wasted every year, at a
cost of £1.5 billion.
Much of this site waste is harmful to the environment and costly
to your business. Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) will help you
manage site waste more effectively, reducing potential harm to the
environment and human health.
SWMPs are now a legal requirement in England
for all construction projects that were started after 6 April 2008
with an estimated construction cost of over £300,000.
If you are in Northern Ireland,
Scotland or Wales, you are not
legally required to have a SWMP. However, a SWMP will help you
manage your materials more effectively and could help you to reduce
the amount of waste you produce and save you money.
This simple guide will help you create an effective SWMP,
whether you are required to have one by law, it is requested by
your client or planning authority, or you just want to follow
industry good practice.
Follow the steps to prepare your plan and put it into practice.
Once you have developed your plan, you can use the checklist in
part three of this guide to make sure you've covered all areas.
How to use this document:
The document is in four parts:
- Part one: What you need to know about
- Part two: How to create your own SWMP
- Part three: SWMP checklist
- Part four: Further guidance and
Part one: What you need to know about site waste management
What is a SWMP?
A SWMP sets out how resources will be managed and waste
controlled at all stages during a construction project.
A SWMP covers:
- Who will be responsible for resource
- What types of waste will be generated.
- How the waste will be managed – will it be
reduced, reused or recycled?
- Which contractors will be used to ensure the
waste is correctly recycled or disposed of responsibly and
- How the quantity of waste generated by the
project will be measured.
Who is affected by a SWMP?
SWMPs affect anyone who is:
- planning or delivering a construction project in England with
an estimated construction cost of over £300,000
- working on smaller projects in England and want to follow
industry good practice
- planning a public sector construction project valued at more
than £200,000 in Northern Ireland
- planning a project for which your client or planning authority
requires a SWMP
- in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and wants to follow
industry good practice
- a supplier to the construction industry.
Why do you need a SWMP?
To comply with the law – All projects in
England with an estimated construction cost of over £300,000 must
have a SWMP before work begins.
To protect the environment – SWMPs help to
manage and reduce the amount of waste produced by construction
projects, which means less waste goes to landfill. Other
environmental benefits include less damage to the local
environment, less fly-tipping, lower energy use and greater use of
To save you money – Managing your materials
more efficiently immediately cuts costs. Better storage and
handling reduces waste and makes it easier for materials to be
recovered. Reusing materials on site will cut your disposal
What are the benefits of a SWMP?
Save time – You can answer queries about your
waste from your environmental regulator or local council quickly
Help you avoid prosecution – You can easily
make sure all your waste is disposed of legally.
Win new business – You can prove your
environmental performance, which can give you an advantage in the
Understand and reduce waste disposal costs –
You understand how your waste is managed so you can identify where
to save money and reduce costs.
Enhance your reputation – Your customers can
see where you are helping the environment and making cost
Help the environment – You will manage
materials and waste on site more responsibly so they are less of a
risk to the local environment.
Improve future projects – When your SWMP is
complete you will have useful information for future projects about
how you used resources and managed your waste.
Site waste – the facts:
- The average 8 cubic yard skip costs around £150.*
- The average cost of what is being thrown away in that skip is
over £1,500 £1,600.*
- The cost of waste can be as much as £43/m2 in typical
- 10m tonnes of construction products are wasted every year, at a
cost of £1.5 billion*.**
- A reduction of 1% of this would save £15m and 104,000 tonnes of
product a year*.**
(*Source: Envirowise 2008)
(**Source: Environment Agency 2008)
Part two: How to create your own site waste management
Simple steps to help you create your own plan
- A successful SWMP requires careful planning and preparation.
Naturally, the bigger the project, the more work required.
- You must prepare a SWMP before work begins if your project is
in England with an estimated construction cost of over £300,000, or
if it is a public sector contract over £200,000 in Northern
Remember this guide is just a starting point.
For your SWMP to be effective you must develop it to suit your
Step one – Plan and prepare
It is important that you start your SWMP during the concept and
design of the project. Design decisions can make a significant
contribution to preventing and reducing waste in the first place.
For example: Can you purchase materials with less or returnable
packaging? Can you pre-order materials to specification? Has
sufficient storage space been created to allow wastes to be
properly segregated as they arise? Speak to your suppliers to see
if they can help.
You must consider whether you can reuse any of the materials
generated on site. Can you reuse excavated soil to landscape an
area, for example? Planning these steps in advance will enable you
to get the most out of your materials and help prevent them
You must record all decisions about the project design,
construction methods or materials that will minimise the waste
produced on site. Make sure you record all measures taken to reduce
waste, even where waste is totally eliminated. This will enable you
to quantify tonnages of reduced waste and cost savings.
Make sure you schedule time to prepare your SWMP while the
construction work is being planned. This early stage is the best
opportunity to reduce the amount of waste your project will
For further information see
WRAP's designing out waste tool. [http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/designing-out-waste-tool-buildings]
Step two – Allocate responsibility for the SWMP
Several people can be involved in the delivery of the plan, but
someone must be appointed to take overall responsibility for the
SWMP. Typically, this will be the client in the pre-construction
phase, but responsibility may transfer to the principal contractor
when construction starts. However, at any time during the plan, one
person should be in charge and responsible for updating it. That
person needs to clearly understand their responsibilities and have
the authority to ensure that others will cooperate.
The client and the principal contractor must sign a declaration
that they will handle materials efficiently and manage waste
appropriately in line with their duty of care.
Read our guidance on your duty of care waste responsibilities.
Step three – Identify your waste
Identify the types and quantities of waste that the project will
Think through every stage of the project and work out in advance
what materials will be used. You must estimate how much waste will
be produced and set realistic targets for how much of that waste
you can reuse, recycle or dispose of.
A simple way of getting this information together is to use a
waste data form. See an example waste data form on page 7.
You can also download our template waste data form.
This should include the waste hierarchy, on-site and off-site
options for handling the waste, and any special arrangements you
need to make for hazardous waste.
Use the data form at the planning stage of your project and then
throughout the project, for example to report weekly or monthly
You need to update the waste data form regularly when waste is
processed or taken away.
You can download and complete our waste data form
Step four – Identify how to manage your waste
Work out the best options for recycling and disposing of all the
types of waste your site produces. Make sure you know where, when
and what sort of materials you can reuse, recycle or dispose of
both on-site and off-site.
Store and dispose of all waste responsibly. Don't mix different
types of waste, you can save time and money if you segregate wastes
as they are generated.
Keep signed waste transfer notes (WTN) or consignment notes for
all waste that you dispose of or transfer from your site.
You must keep WTNs for at least two years and consignment notes
for at least three years. This could be kept as an appendix to your
plan. For more information see our guidance on records for
receiving and transferring waste
Step five – Identify where and how to dispose of your
Make sure you know where and how your waste will be disposed of.
If you are using waste disposal contractors you will need to make
sure they dispose of it safely and legally.
- anyone transporting your waste, including your own business, is
registered as a waste carrier with your environmental regulator –
record their waste carrier registration number on your plan
- all sites receiving your waste have an appropriate permit,
licence or registered exemption from your environmental regulator –
record these details (including the permit or licence reference
number) on your plan.
You can check registered waste carriers with your
Northern Ireland Environment Agency: Registered waste carriers
SEPA: Registered waste carriers
You can find licensed waste sites in your area using our
Step six – Organise your materials and waste
- Make significant savings by carefully planning the materials
you need for your project.
- Avoid over-ordering to save money and reduce site waste.
- Pre-order materials to specification at the design stage to
reduce waste created from off-cuts and reduce labour costs.
- Consider any limitations of your location.
- Consider using recycled or previously used materials as another
way of keeping costs down and helping the environment.
- Record all the decisions that you make to minimise waste, such
as the construction methods and materials to be used. Make sure you
also record your SWMP targets in your waste data form.
Step seven – Communicate the plan and carry out training
- Once you have a clear plan, let everyone know about it,
- You must keep the SWMP on site. Make sure everyone working on
the project knows where to find it.
- Make sure that all workers on your site have the right training
and information to carry out their work according to the SWMP. Meet
with staff and contractors to clearly explain why the SWMP is
important. Include SWMP information in your site induction, and
provide updates through toolbox talks.
- You may need to develop a training programme to make sure
everyone understands how to report waste and material use. The
training should ensure that everyone is aware of the importance of
asking for and recording the correct paperwork, receipts,
destinations for materials etc.
- Train your workers on the importance of not mixing wastes or
- Designate skip areas and label skips clearly.
- During your project, carry out spot checks and monitor your
staff regularly to make sure they are following procedures.
- Appoint a 'site champion' with the authority to make sure
everyone sticks to the plan. Someone fly-tips in the UK every 25
seconds.Fly-tipping costs the taxpayer £63million each
year. (Source: Defra)
Step eight – Measure your waste and update your SWMP
Once your project is underway you need to update the SWMP
regularly when waste leaves your site.
- Keep track of all movements of waste within and from your site.
You must record the types of waste taken, who removed the waste and
where they took the waste.
- Keep your waste documents as an appendix to your plan and make
sure you update your plan with the totals of waste handled to
reflect the progress of the project.
- Measure how well the plan is working by assessing the type and
quantity of waste that is produced.
Take measurements so you can compare with future projects, for
- Volume (eg number of full skips)
- Value (eg cost of disposal)
- Weight (eg weighbridge tickets returned to you).
- Record your waste costs against:
- Value of project
- Area of build floorspace
- Volume of building.
Track your progress by:
- updating your waste data form regularly
- revising your waste data form if circumstances change.
Make sure everything is going according to your plan and make
any changes required.
Step nine – Review the success and learn lessons for the
By the end of the project the SWMP should give you an accurate
record of how effectively you have managed the materials on the
site and how well you met your waste management targets.
If your project is in England with an estimated construction
cost of between £300,000 and £500,000, within three months of the
project being completed the principal contractor must add more
information to the plan to:
- confirm the plan has been monitored and updated on a regular
- explain any changes from the original plan. If your project is
in England with an estimated construction cost of over £500,000,
you also need to:
- compare the estimated and actual quantities of each waste
- estimate the cost savings achieved by the plan.
The information in your plan will be useful for future
construction projects. You could put together a report of the
results of the SWMP and a list of action points for the future,
which you can:
- send to staff and customers to inform everyone involved in
delivering the SWMP about its value, impact on the cost of the
project and benefits to the environment
- use to help you plan future projects.
You must keep the SWMP for at least two years after the project
has finished, either at the project site, or at the principal
contractor's main place of business.
Part three: Site waste management plan checklist
Planning and preparation
- Have you set aside time to prepare your
- Have you considered the construction
methods and materials that you can use to reduce the amount of
waste your project produces?
- Have you thought about ordering materials
that have less or reusable/returnable packaging?
- Have you recorded all of your waste
reduction decisions in your plan?
- Has someone with authority been assigned
overall responsibility for the SWMP?
- Have you included a declaration from the
client and principal contractor in your SWMP?
Identifying your waste
- Have you assessed the waste produced at
each stage of the project - the types, how much and when, including
the processes involved?
- Have you indentified which workers will
Managing your waste
- Has an area of the site been set aside for
storing new materials and waste, including separate containers for
different types of waste? You must store new materials separately
from waste, and make sure storage areas are secure against
- Have you set targets for the different
types of waste likely to be produced by the project? Include
targets for the amounts of each waste type to be reused, recycled
and disposed of.
- Have measures been put in place to deal
with expected and unexpected hazardous waste?
- Have you considered whether you can reuse
materials either on site or off site?
- Have you considered on-site and off-site
processing and reuse of materials?
Disposing of your waste
- Have you considered how you will dispose
of liquid wastes such as wash-down water and lubricants?
- Have you got agreement from your water and
sewerage operator for trade effluent discharge?
- Are you complying with your duty of care,
including using waste transfer notes or consignment notes for all
movements of waste from your site and checking the details of those
removing the waste?
- Has someone been made responsible for
checking that loads of waste leaving your site are accurately
described, and waste transfer notes and consignment notes are
- Have you checked that every waste carrier
you use is registered with your environmental regulator?
- Have you checked that all sites receiving
your waste have the appropriate permits, licences or registered
- Have you identified your nearest waste
sites? Use our Waste
- Have you considered how to reduce disposal
costs by reusing or recycling waste materials with a commercial
Organising materials and waste
- Have you assessed the quantities of
materials you need to order to reduce over-ordering and site
- Can you return unused materials to the
supplier, sell them or use them on another job?
- Have you considered using recycled
- Can you return unwanted packaging to the
supplier for reuse or recycling?
- Will you separate different types of waste
to enable you to get best value from good waste management
- Have you labelled containers and skips
clearly to avoid confusion? Colour coding your containers could
- Are your storage areas secure and
weatherproof to prevent wind and rain damaging your
- Have you covered or netted any loose
materials to prevent them being spread and possibly causing
- Is everyone who will handle waste aware of
the SWMP requirements?
Communicating and training
- Have you planned site inductions and
toolbox talks for all site staff?
- Are contractors and subcontractors trained
and aware of their responsibilities?
- Have contractors and subcontractors
understood and agreed the SWMP?
- Are SWMP requirements built into
- Are you carrying out spot checks and
monitoring your staff regularly to make sure they are following
Measuring and monitoring your waste
- Are you updating your plan every time
waste is removed from your site?
- Are you checking the SWMP regularly and
making sure targets are being reached?
- Are the agreed waste management procedures
being checked and monitored regularly?
- Are you producing regular reports on waste
quantities, treatment/disposal routes and costs?
- When construction is underway, are you
making notes of problems and recording them for your next
Reviewing the success and learning lessons for the future
- Have you produced a final report on the
use of recycled and secondary materials, waste reduction,
segregation, recovery and disposal, and identified the costs and
- Have you explained any changes to the
- Have any issues or problems been taken
into account for action in future projects?
- Is there a copy of the SWMP at the project
site? You must keep it for two years at either the project site or
at the principal contractor's office.
- Have you used the results to help you win
Part four: Further guidance and information
Need more help?
Pollution prevention guidelines: PPG 6 Working at
construction and demolition sites (Adobe PDF - 8.9MB)
Produced by the environmental regulators to help the
construction industry manage the environmental impacts of their
DEFRA (www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/ topics/construction)
– Leading on sustainable development as the way forward for
The construction programmes of WRAP and Envirowise help
businesses from across the construction supply chain to reduce cost
and increase efficiency through the better use of materials. Use
their SWMP template to go beyond minimum requirements and move from
standard to good and best practice. The template is targeted at
projects over £500,000 and can be used as guidance to help you get
more out of your SWMP.
(www.wrap.org.uk/content/site-waste-management-plans-2) – Support
for the construction sector and their clients.
Waste Scotland: Construction project support– Support for the
construction industry in Scotland
Northern Ireland: Support for construction Support for the
construction industry in Northern Ireland
CIRIA (www.ciria.org) – Bringing together the many stakeholders
in the modern built environment to identify and promote industry