Waste management plan are guides for reducing, handling and disposing of waste during construction, renovation and land-clearing projects. They detail all types of waste and steps to be taken to lower the amount produced on site. They are often provided to contractors or subcontractors and help to prevent unnecessary waste being sent to landfill.
Creating a waste management plan prior to the start of a project saves time and money, as it allows processes to be agreed upon. This may include waste container hire, collection frequency and associated costs. It also helps to set goals for waste reduction and enables costs to be calculated more accurately. A waste management plan can be used to provide specifications for bid/contractor packages, which can include procedures for salvage, reuse and recycling. This can be particularly helpful for larger construction projects, where multiple contractors are onsite at the same time and can operate to the same waste minimisation plans.
The City’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) handles around 12,000 tons of waste per day, and recycles about 50 percent of the waste it takes in. DSNY’s trucks haul garbage, trash and recyclables across the city and dispose of residential, institutional and commercial waste, as well as some mixed waste. It’s a massive undertaking, and one that’s currently undergoing some major changes.
In the past, DSNY used to set recycling goals that were tonnage-based. However, these targets were too high and led to an over-abundance of materials being diverted from the recycling stream. To address this problem, the City passed Local Law 40 in 2010, which returned to setting percentage-based recycling goals based on the diversion rate achieved by the SWMP in 2002.
This is a much more realistic measure, and it’s helping to keep the recycling rates of the city up, even as tonnages are declining. The decline in tonnage is mainly due to the disproportionate drop in paper and metals, which has depressed the recycling rates, even though DSNY continues to get better at capturing what’s left in the waste streams.
While the SWMP has had some success, it’s still not enough to meet the State’s recycling goals. To do so, the City needs to continue to reduce its reliance on truck-based waste exports and switch to a barge- and rail-based system.
The best way to do this is by making waste minimisation a priority at all levels. Educate employees about the importance of reducing waste, and create a culture that supports this goal. Identify a waste minimisation champion and make them responsible for promoting the waste minimisation goals of the project. Put their contact details up on the site noticeboard, and encourage workers to approach them with any questions or suggestions. It’s also helpful to display the SWMP results, along with a breakdown of the different types of waste generated on the project, on a large screen in the office for all to see and use as a reference. This is a great way to keep staff motivated!