Waste hierarchy for construction
Businesses and other organisations within the UK produce significant amounts of waste. In particular, 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).
The waste hierarchy sets out a set of priorities that are based on sustainability with an order of preference for actions to reduce and manage waste. The overall aim of the hierarchy is to generate the minimum waste possible by using every material in every way possible. The most preferable option is 'prevention', at the top of the hierarchy with the least preferable 'disposal' at the bottom.
The waste hierarchy illustrated below is from the Defra 2011 publication, Guidance on applying the waste hierarchy which provides advice on the application of the waste hierarchy for businesses and public bodies.
All businesses or public bodies that produce or handle waste must apply the waste hierarchy system and try to prevent the generation of waste wherever possible. In addition, if the business is involved in the production, import, export, carrying, keeping, treatment or disposal of waste, or as a broker in control of such waste, there is a legal duty of care to take all reasonable steps to keep that waste safe. If waste is transferred to someone else, there is a duty of care to ensure they are authorised to take it and can deal with it or dispose of it safely.
- Reduction of food waste.
- Reduction of packaging.
- Care in handling.
- Use of less material in manufacturing.
- Re-use of surplus material by other organisations.
- Sell/donate/swap unwanted items.
- Repair and retain items rather than purchasing new ones.
- Hire or lease items.
- Re-use containers.
In construction, a site waste management plan (SWMP) can be prepared before construction begins, describing how materials will be managed efficiently and disposed of legally during the construction of the works, and explaining how the re-use and recycling of materials will be maximised.
Specific construction guidance is also available at: http://www.wrap.org.uk/category/sector/construction
- Bin blight.
- BREEAM Operational waste.
- Circular economy.
- Environmental plan.
- Mean lean green.
- Quantification of construction materials in existing buildings (material intensity).
- Recyclable construction materials.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Reused construction products.
- Site waste management plan.
- UandI Think event with Studio SWINE.
- Waste management plan for England.
 External references
About the wiki
Anyone is welcome to use and contribute to the wiki in different ways.
 Engaging with the wiki
- Contribute to existing articles
- Create articles
- Share articles through social media and other channels
- Contact the CIRCuIT project to let us know what you think and how we can improve
 Add your own content
To contribute to or create an article, you can follow these steps:
- Register as a user
- Read through the editorial policy and guidance on writing and contributing to articles
- See the detailed help page on tips on writing wiki articles
- Try editing a test article
- If editing an article, select 'Edit this article' underneath the article title
- If creating a new article, select 'Create an article'. In the 'Select categories' area, expand the 'Industry context' list and tag 'Circular economy' to add your article to this wiki
 Who is this wiki for?
The articles contain information on implementing circular economy approaches in construction that could be relevant to:
- Construction contractors
- Developers, owners, investors
- Manufacturers and supplier
- Universities and research
- Urban planners
 About CIRCuIT
The Circular Economy wiki is supported by the Circular Construction in Regenerative Cities (CIRCuIT) project, which is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. CIRCuIT is a collaborative project involving 31 ambitious partners across the entire built environment chain in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Helsinki Region and Greater London. Through a series of demonstrations, case studies, events and dissemination activities, the project will showcase how circular construction practices can be scaled and replicated across Europe to enable sustainable building in cities and the transition to a circular economy on a wider scale.