One of the ways my two children earn pocket money is to sort and put out the recycling. It gives me a chance to talk to them about recycling and how I try to make the right choices when we buy things as a family.
I explain why we avoid buying single use plastic bottles and highly packaged items. I try to get them to understand that there is no ‘getting rid’ of our waste that is has to go somewhere.
They see that when we go to the seaside and the small or sometimes larger bits of plastic in the sea and the effects this can have on wildlife. I guess you would expect that from someone whose background is environmental science – and I have to report that on occasions they actually listen – hopefully some of it goes in.
Being the lead for environment at Carillion has given me a chance to input policy and strategy on waste that I am happy to say is listened to, supported and implemented.
Our people get why it’s important for the environment, society and the bottom line. For some years we have been working towards zero waste to landfill and the construction part of our business has led the way – only 2% of its waste goes to landfill either because it’s non-recyclable or hazardous. Now this way of thinking has become ‘business as usual,’ we asked our contracts to really concentrate on reducing waste generated.
Now we think about eliminating waste at the earliest stages through the design and planning of the project, working with suppliers and through our onsite operations.
Last year we achieved a 3.3% reduction in waste.
A few examples of how we achieved this include the A1 L2B civils contract where we used BIM and GPS to accurately control the amount of tarmac laid, giving a better quality finish, design assurance and waste reduction. Our suppliers are key too and we have been working with one of our main plasterboard suppliers (Knauf) to manufacture ‘to size’ panels offsite – we use less material and create less waste.
When we demolished buildings in Birmingham as part of the Paradise redevelopment project, we stored 5000m3 of crushed material until required at another of our projects Midland Met Hospital, in nearby Smethwick, achieving 100% local reuse. Sometimes we do need to take materials off site and for example in London we use waste management companies that make the most of the latest technology and can re-cycle or recover 100% of our waste.
We have also been working with a Doctoral Practitioner – Sustainability, Erica Russel to understand our limitations and areas of influence which is key in knowing where we need to focus to reduce waste, improve reuse, promote recycling, and hopefully work within our supply network to increase “circular economy”…
Working with our heads of supply chain and suppliers we have taken our top five products used in construction in the UK and Middle East to understand how much has a recycled content. The next step is to develop targets to increase this content whilst ensuring the embodied carbon or water is not increased as a result.
So although I can’t always get the message across at home, I know at work our people are committed to taking waste out of the process and have started to see it as a valuable material which bodes well for all our children’s futures.