Introduction to site waste management plans

Identify construction waste and consider how to manage it


When producing a site waste management plan (SWMP), you will need to know the types and quantities of waste that may be produced during each stage of the work programme. This will help you to plan for the waste containers that you will need for the different construction project stages and when it is best to start separating out different types of waste. By considering your materials and methods at the planning and design phase you can achieve the biggest savings, for example by designing out waste and identifying opportunities for reusing materials.

Common types of waste in site waste management plans

The following wastes are usually produced during a project's life cycle:

  • inert wastes - eg concrete, bricks and blocks - will be generated in the first phases of the project
  • timber waste may be generated throughout the project
  • plastic and packaging waste will tend to increase as the project progresses
  • some waste types - eg office and canteen waste - will be present throughout the project

You should include any waste from demolition works in your estimates. You can estimate this by carrying out a pre-demolition audit.

Site waste management plan options for reducing construction waste

Once you have estimated the likely on-site waste, your strategy for managing it must follow the 'waste hierarchy'. This can help you to choose the most cost-effective options that have the least impact on the environment.

Start by considering how to prevent and reduce waste. Then look at ways of reusing and recycling waste, and recovery options such as composting and energy-from-waste. You must only dispose of waste, such as to landfill, as a last resort.

Waste management planning will help you to:

  • decide whether any specialised equipment is required on site
  • provide advance warning if exemptions or licences are required
  • plan for the appropriate use of space and containers

This information can be combined with your waste estimates to set targets for: