Introduction to site waste management plans

Prepare to write a site waste management plan


The first step in preparing the site management waste plan (SWMP) is deciding who will write it.

Who should write a site management waste plan?

Ideally the SWMP should be written at the pre-planning stage. It is likely that the developer, client or the architect's representative may produce it. A specific individual should be responsible for both writing and implementing the SWMP.

If the SWMP is written at the pre-planning stage of the project the client should draft the Plan. The principal contractor should then keep the SWMP up to date as the construction project progresses.

When to write a site management waste plan

Starting the SWMP at the earliest opportunity - preferably at the conception and design phase - will produce the most effective plan. This enables you to consider the materials and methods of construction in minimising the amount of waste.

It is important that the person writing the SWMP has knowledge of waste issues and the construction programme. Ideally they should also be responsible for putting the SWMP in place.

It is essential that the SWMP is supported by management and accepted by the wider team. The writer should involve the project team from the beginning when they put the SWMP together. The project team may include:

  • the client
  • the design team
  • the environmental team
  • any sub-contractors - especially the demolition contractor
  • the entire supply chain

Each part of the team can help reduce the amount of waste produced. For example, clients can help by thinking about how the SWMP impacts on contractors, including contract clauses that ensure waste is properly managed and using preferred suppliers that use their resources efficiently.

Designers and architects could use standard-sized materials when specifying designs, include waste minimisation strategies during construction, incorporate deconstruction into their designs for easier recycling and use recycled or reclaimed material where possible.

Suppliers could reduce the volume of product packaging and offer a take-back service to minimise wasted materials. This is important for materials such as plasterboard that are banned from landfill sites.

Contractors and sub-contractors can help by putting waste into appropriate skips, avoiding over ordering, reducing offcuts through careful management of materials, handling and storing materials appropriately, avoiding the use of hazardous materials and adopting waste management best practice techniques.

It is important that the SWMP is communicated effectively to everyone on site, and that training is provided. For more information, see site waste management communication and training.

Appointing a person responsible for your site waste management plan

One competent person on site - eg the principal contractor - should be made responsible for implementing the SWMP. This person needs to:

  • communicate the SWMP to everyone on site and motivate them to follow it
  • provide or source the necessary resources and training
  • have a good knowledge of the contract and the various parties involved

It may also be helpful to nominate someone on site as a waste champion to:

  • promote awareness of the SWMP
  • monitor and report on waste generation
  • monitor and enforce waste separation
  • monitor the effectiveness of the SWMP
  • form a good working relationship with the waste management contractor
  • encourage suggestions for better waste management on site

For more information on waste champions and changing behaviour, see making the case for environmental improvements.