There is an array of quite complex legislation applicable to environmental and waste matters, and different parts of the UK have variations in how these apply. A common theme however is the statutory duty of care which applies to anyone who produces, stores, or transports waste to keep it safe and make sure that anyone who carries waste is authorised to take it and can transport, recycle or dispose of it safely.

Businesses and the self-employed engaged in construction and the building trades need to achieve good standards for materials and resource efficiency including waste reduction, re-use or recycling of materials, and the appropriate disposal of residual waste.

In addition to environmental benefits and compliance, effective site waste management also positively impacts health and safety and fire safety.

Arrangements need to comply with legal duties but should otherwise be proportionate to the size and scope of the project.

Key actions to safely and effectively manage waste during a construction project

  • The organisation or individual for whom a construction project is carried out (the client) should ensure that an initial site waste management plan is prepared and passed to the principal contractor before work begins. The plan will include assurances that:
    • All waste will be dealt with in accordance with the waste duty of care as set out in the legislation for the regions which you work in.
    • Efficiency will be central throughout the project, so that less waste materials are left over or produced.
    • Any waste will be managed appropriately – i.e. handled, stored and disposed of correctly, so as to minimise any negative impact on the environment or people’s health and safety.
  • Review our general advice about waste management, which includes the hierarchy of duties that businesses have.
  • Work out what types of, and estimate how much, waste will be produced during each phase of the construction project so that you can better manage the waste hierarchy.
  • Set targets based on predictions for the project, past experience and guidance provided by specialists.
  • Appoint a competent person to take responsibility for the site waste management plan throughout all stages of the project.
  • Plan procurement and storage arrangements to reduce excessive on-site storage and materials handling.
  • Monitor housekeeping standards and the control of waste throughout the site, and its transfer elsewhere.
  • Make sure that all site operatives (including those employed via sub-contractors) understand how the plan operates and their role in contributing to it and associated reports and records.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of the plan, maintaining and updating it as necessary to reflect progress and any process changes.
  • Compare and record performance with reviews during and after completion of the work and include explanations for any deviations.
  • Keep the plan and records for two years so that it can be used to prove how you met your duty of care and to help with the preparation of future projects.

Templates to assist with waste management

Additional resources

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some common queries about managing risks to people, property and business continuity.

Related topics

Review the advice in these pages to make sure that your plan includes consideration of the risks.

Get more general guidance about handling waste from our environment risk topic page, waste management.