Lockdown in the UK may be easing, but during the long and quiet months of quarantine construction projects have continued across the nation. 

From ‘essential’ construction works being done to public facilities and social housing, to the dramatic rise in DIY; the UK’s need for construction has not dwindled. 

While the rise in construction projects provide a consistency to the UK economy that’s greatly required, the area that’s seeing a dramatic impact is waste.

It may not sound very glamorous, or as though it’s an extreme problem amid the outbreak of a pandemic, but as we begin to emerge from the crisis and into a new world, many in the construction sector are looking at how we can create more sustainability. 

The UK construction industry provides more than £110 billion per annum to the UK economy, that’s 7% of GDP, but waste in the sector is a growing problem. 

New Legislation 

The Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) is a not-for-profit, independent organisation founded in 1997 to raise the standards in the construction industry. 

In May 2020, the CCS proposed that tighter rules and regulations on waste and recyclable materials should be imposed across the construction sector. 

The industry currently claims around a 90% diversion from landfill, a strong recovery compared to other sectors. However, some research reveals that 13% of products delivered to construction sites are sent to landfill without ever being used. 

Furthermore, there is a large element of energy recovery through incinerators, with few organisations attempting to recycle or reuse. 

Therefore the new policy will put an emphasis on avoiding waste while encouraging recycling and reuse. The current strategy laid out reveals a ‘roadmap’ towards zero avoidable waste. 

Senior Sustainability Advisor and Circular Economy Programme Lead at the UK Green Building Council, said, “Construction, demolition and excavation in the UK currently produces a staggering 120 million tonnes of waste each year. This is nearly 60% of all UK waste.”

Once lockdown is lifted, it’s safe to say that the UK government and organisations across the building sector will be pushing these new green policies strongly. 

DIY During Lockdown 

It’s easy to assume construction waste is only a ‘big deal’ for large organisations and building contractors. But the simple fact is, construction waste is everyone’s responsibility regardless of how large or small the build. 

During the UK lockdown, there has been a significant rise in home DIY. According to figures released on 5th June by Alderman, 38% of UK residents have been ‘doing it ourselves’ during the imposed quarantine. However, 17% of people say they are planning to do more soon. 

The rise in a nation of self-builders has created more work for the professionals, as DIY disasters are now at the top of many builders project lists. 

The BBC reported that ‘DIY mayhem’ has swept the nation, with everyone from painters, to builders being called in to fix DIY attempts. 

Of course, while it’s a novel idea to try your hand at DIY, what people don’t realise, is it’s not just the skills they may be missing but the unintended consequences of their work. 

In May 2020, The National Environment Agency inspectors were called out to 20 incidents of water pollution caused by lockdown DIY. 

Beating the Criminals

In the world of construction waste, it may seem there’s a lot to clean-up.

It’s bad enough that our environment is being polluted by DIY amateurs, and the fact that construction waste is still ending up in landfill, but fly-tipping hit a 10-year high in 2019 and still remains a serious problem amongst all of this. 

In the UK, fly-tipping got so serious in November 2019, that an independent review by the Serious and Organised Crime in the Waste Sector had to be actioned. 

The review revealed that the majority of materials being tipped illegally were in fact, what we describe in the sector as ‘muck-away’. Essentially, inert rubble which was everything from steel to asbestos. 

According to reports multiple fly-tipping even increased in some parts of the UK during May 2020, with some claiming the increase was due to limited capacity at waste and recycling centres. 

As we emerge out of lockdown and begin to make plans for the future, everyone in the construction industry must start taking responsibility for the materials they choose and the way they remove their waste. 

At AJ Grab Hire, we are certified by the Environment Agency as responsible waste removers. A title we take seriously. 

If you’re concerned about how you’re managing your construction waste for your next project, commercial or domestic, contact our team today to discuss how we can help you be responsible with your waste.

AJ Grab Hire

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