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UK Site Waste Management Plan Template (SWMP) Update!

 History of the UK Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP)

The UK Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) was made a mandatory requirement in 2008 for any construction projects in England with a cost of more than £300,000. The SWMP aims to reduce waste generated by construction projects while also encouraging material reuse and recycling. Before work could begin on a site, it was necessary to create a waste management plan that specified how garbage would be managed throughout the project, including segregation, transportation, and disposal.

The SWMP rule, however, was repealed in 2013 as part of the UK government's effort to cut regulatory costs on businesses. Despite this, the principles of the SWMP remain applicable to the construction sector, and having a waste management plan in place is still considered best practise.

The UK Site Waste Management Plan currently has a non-mandatory legal status. Nonetheless, the UK government encourages construction companies to voluntarily implement a waste management plan. Developing and following a waste management plan can help contractors, builders, and developers save money on trash disposal, improve resource efficiency, and improve their environmental credentials.

In summary, the UK Site Waste Management Plan was implemented in 2008 to reduce trash generated by building sites and to encourage material reuse and recycling. The rule was repealed in 2013, however the SWMP principles remain applicable to the business. The SWMP's legal position is still non-mandatory, however enterprises in the construction industry can profit by developing and implementing a waste management plan.

The following is our archived post in which we introduced the idea of a Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) template, which would be used to develop consistently high quality Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) at the start of all constrcution projects over £300,000 in value.


“WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has launched (on 26 February 2008) a Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) template to help the construction industry comply with legislation coming into force in England in April, which will make SWMPs a mandatory requirement on all aspects of construction work worth more than £300,000.

Construction waste recycling in action on a site assisted by a UK Site Waste Management Plan Template.
Construction waste is crushed on the site. Much of it can often be recycled on the site.

The template, which supports standard, good and best practice in general construction, housing and civil engineering projects, has been developed with Halcrow, Costain, C4S, the NHBC Foundation and the BRE to support the industry in developing their plans. The template comprises a series of 14 steps, which follow the construction lifecycle from pre-design to project completion and review.

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Using the template will enable contractors to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) for waste and materials, and monitor performance throughout the project. Importantly, the template can be used to demonstrate good and best practice performance beyond simple standard compliance with the regulations.

Mervyn Jones, WRAP Programme Manager for Waste Minimisation and Management, comments:

“Now that SWMPs are to become mandatory we wanted to provide an approach that would not just help the sector and its clients comply with the legislation, but also offer the opportunity to identify and deliver good and best practice in reducing waste and using materials more efficiently. The template will lead construction professionals through both the development and implementation of the plan, at each stage of construction”.

The template can be implemented from the conception of a project and offers the flexibility for use either in its entirety or for relevant elements to be incorporated into existing templates or systems that a company may have in place.  It will allow contractors to predict and monitor the waste produced by a project, detail decisions taken to minimise waste generated, and at completion produce final reports to demonstrate overall performance.

The template includes guidance at each step to enable professionals to understand the data they need to input and how it can be used to inform the rest of the plan.  The template is part of a suite of WRAP resources to support SWMPs.

The Waster says:

“These templates look awe-inspiringly complicated! A £300,000 project is not large, and yet these templates are intended from that size project and upward. It will amaze me if these templates get used.”

There is surely a need for a more down to earth approach toward compliance than these templates. We need tools designed for the average contractor with uncomplicated waste disposal needs for the vast majority of simple projects.

These templates smack at a project completed by a Spreadsheet Wiz, but very few in the industry will be on this wavelength at all – in my view. I hope the industry proves me wrong, because the aims of reducing waste and saving money are worthwhile.

Not sure what a Site Waste Management Plan is? For a summary of the requirements and an explanatory video visit our SWMP hubpage here.


January 2020 Update:

National Waste Programme: Project Waste Management Plan (PWMP) Template

The GOV.UK website provides an editable, blank template which can be directly adopted by waste producers, adapted to form a site-specific PWMP, or used to improve an organisation’s existing processes where PWMPs are already in use, here.

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[Article first posted on 14 March 2008.]

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