Watts Sector

The case for integrating waste

Waste is in the news. The government is about to review its policies on waste and the CBI is urging that waste management be seen as an important part of the green economy. “We risk a missing a trick by not harnessing the huge potential of waste,” said Dr Neil Bentley, CBI deputy director-general, in February.

None of this is hot off the press as far as universities are concerned. In a sector that produces hundreds of thousands of tonnes of refuse each year, what happens to that waste is a serious matter. With Higher Education Funding Council for England funding now tied to environmental performance, waste management plans are mandatory and universities are under greater pressure than ever before to reduce, reuse and recycle.

University estates departments have twin concerns: effectively managing and reducing waste generated by the university and its students as part of the facilities management operation and dealing with site waste generated by building projects. English universities are already required to ensure that all construction projects worth more than £300,000 (excluding VAT) have a Site Waste Management Plan. This means that wherever possible, contractors must:

  • reduce the amount of waste produced;
  • re-use and recycle materials;
  • recover any reusable component parts or materials; and
  • treat disposal as the last resort.

The challenge for estates directors is now to integrate the waste generated by construction projects into university waste management plans in order to drive efficiency and reduce costs.

According to Graham Wilson, a senior project manager in the Property and Facilities Department at City University in London, site waste should not be left to contractors to deal with, or considered in isolation from the estates function as a whole. Universities should be taking a proactive role in reducing the waste generated by all their activities, he says. This includes a whole-life approach to site waste management from demolition through specification of recycled or carbon neutral products to recovery and/or responsible disposal of exhausted or unused building materials. “With HEFCE’s emphasis now on energy efficiency and universities expected to produce buildings that are rated by BREEAM to be at least ‘very good’, waste management is a vital part of the environmental jigsaw,” says Wilson. As the CBI pointed out in February, as new technologies evolve, there is also an increasing opportunity to turn waste into a resource. The next step, Wilson believes is for universities not only to establish waste management centres on campus but to consider options such as district heating systems to enable them to generate their own energy from the waste they produce. With the advent of the CRC, this could prove an increasingly attractive option for those in the HE sector with the will to take waste management to the next level.

For further information contacts Daniel Webb, Director in Watts’ London office on 020 7280 8000.


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