The state of waste management in the construction industry

A comprehensive industry report from Qflow analyses the state of waste management in the construction industry for the UK

Analysing 90,000 data points Qflow has released a comprehensive industry report detailing the current state of waste management in the construction industry for the UK. 

This industry-first report covers the months from June 2018 to April 2023 and revealed concerns that the average waste compliance rate is 64%. This means that one in three legally required fields go unchecked. 

As a result, these omissions leave an unrealistic picture of how waste is handled, where its sent, and what the type of waste is. Lacking this data makes it impossible to be accurate when quantifying the cost and physical waste produced, as well as the impact on the planet. 

The digital platform company is dedicated to “leaving the world in a better place than we found it.” With a vision that the construction industry “uses only the resources it needs in the most efficient way possible – delivering a built environment that meets the needs of society without compromising future generations.”

The report produced by the company highlights the risk of harmful waste disposal practices due to incomplete waste-handling data and is calling for industry-wide improvements in waste management to reduce environmental impact and increase efficiency.

“When we started this analysis, we knew it was going to highlight some pretty shocking practices, but I wasn't prepared for this level of non-compliance! As an industry, construction consumes over 40% of the world’s raw resources and accounts for over 40% of landfill waste,” said Brittany Harris, Co-Founder & CEO of Qflow.

“Without good data on what's happening to all this waste, we don't have a chance of reducing it or improving material reuse and recycling. We hope that with the insights shared today, and by helping the industry get better data far more easily, we can work together with the regulators, industry bodies, developers and contractors to really transform construction from a linear and wasteful industry to one that is circular and low carbon,” she added.

Elsewhere in the report, Qflow uncovered the carbon footprint of waste management in construction, with the average emissions associated with waste transport per project totalling over nine tonnes of CO2e - more than 6,000 miles of travel. In addition, the current average of carbon emissions associated with waste management during construction is 190 tonnes of CO2e per US$1.3m in project spend. 

“Qflow’s waste report strikingly details the flaws in the construction waste sector, which have become apparent to us since we invested in and began to use their platform,” said Ed Green, Sustainability Director at Grosvenor Property UK.

He concluded: “There are so many holes in the chain of custody that it’s hard for any developer, no matter how responsible, to reliably report on what is happening to 100% of its construction waste. It is of paramount importance that the entire industry takes responsibility and ownership of its waste cycle. Material circularity in the built environment can only be achieved when true accountability is taken for the waste from construction sites.”

Full report.


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