Last edited 15 Jan 2020

Site waste management plan SWMP


The Site Waste Management Plans Regulations placed obligations on the client (other than domestic clients) and the principal contractor for any construction project with an estimated cost of more than £300,000 (the price agreed in the accepted tender, i.e. excluding VAT and consultant fees, see Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Non-statutory guidance for site waste management plans P5).

This included maintenance and alteration works. More detail was required for projects with an estimated cost of more than £500,000. Whilst the regulations were not related to the CDM regulations, they did draw on the same terminology, allocating roles to the client and principal contractor.

However, following a comprehensive government review of 21,000 regulations on different themes, Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP) are no longer compulsory for construction projects in England (from 1 December 2013). (Ref .The Environmental Noise, Site Waste Management Plans and Spreadable Fats etc. (Revocations and Amendments) Regulations 2013.)

They may still be required for BREEAM assessments or by the local planning authority, and may be considered an environmentally responsible initiative by the main contractor or by the client.

The UK construction industry is the largest consumer of resources, requiring more than 400 million tonnes of material a year (ref. Davis Langdon). 32% of landfill waste comes from the construction and demolition of buildings and 13% of products delivered to construction sites are sent directly to landfill without being used (ref. Technology Strategy Board).

A site waste management plan (SWMP) should initially be prepared by the client before construction begins, although they may commission a member of the consultant team to do this on their behalf. It should describe how materials will be managed efficiently and disposed of legally during the construction of the works, explaining how the re-use and recycling of materials will be maximised.

This involves estimating how much of each type of waste is likely to be produced and the proportion of this that will be re-used or recycled on site, or removed from the site for re-use, recycling, recovery or disposal.

It is the joint responsibility of the client and the principal contractor to ensure that a site waste management plan is in place before construction begins and to ensure that it is enforced.

The principal contractor should:

  • Ensure that the requirements of the site waste management plan are included in sub-contracts.
  • Arrange suitable site induction, information and training of personnel to ensure that the plan is implemented.
  • Take all reasonable steps to prevent unauthorised disposal of the waste by others.
  • Update the plan as the works progress to reflect the actual handling of waste.
  • At the end of the project (within 3 months) reconcile the planned handling of waste against what actually happened and provide an explanation of any differences.

For large projects (with an estimated cost of more than £500,000), the principal contractor should record in detail how each consignment of waste is handled and who by (see Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Non-statutory guidance for site waste management plans P12) and to prepare an estimate of the cost savings achieved through implementation of the site waste management plan.

There is no formal notification or approval process for site waste management plans, however the local authority may require submission of site waste management plans as part of the planning process.

A site waste management plan template is provided in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Non-statutory guidance for site waste management plans Annex A.

A site waste management plan template is also available from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) along with guidance for clients, designers and contractors.

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