Resource efficiency

Manage our use of natural resources, reduce waste and put it to valuable uses.

By managing our waste sustainably we can conserve precious natural resources, play our part in UK carbon reduction, and save money. We’re aiming not only to reduce the amount of waste we manage but also send more of it to beneficial uses such as reuse and recycling.

Our target is to divert 95% of waste to beneficial use and reduce the total volume of waste produced by 10% by 2020. Our operations generate a substantial amount of waste – from the sludge produced at our wastewater treatment works to the material displaced when we dig holes. Some of the waste we deal with is difficult to treat, and achieving the target continues to require a big commitment from employees and contractors across many different business areas.

We are currently undertaking a review of our existing waste strategy to understand the best way to manage it over the longer term. This will consider how issues such as the circular economy could present opportunities or the potential risks of increasing waste disposal costs. 

In 2015/16, we improved our performance by diverting 94.5% of our total waste produced to beneficial use. We continue to drive for improved waste performance, which is reflected by a decrease of waste taken to landfill at 5.5%. This demonstrates an improvement in the way in which we are managing the sustainable disposal of our waste.

This year we have adopted new reporting methods for three of our waste streams; wastewater sludge, network excavation material and construction waste. We have also separated out hazardous waste for the first time. This has allowed us to more accurately represent the waste being produced, which in turn has resulted in a larger volume of waste being measured. As part of our strategy review we will look to re-baseline based upon this data.

Waste Type Waste produced (wet tonnes) Waste diverted to beneficial use (wet tonnes) % diverted to beneficial use
Construction   

 318,359

 293,973

 92.3

Wastewater sludge

 256,231

 256,231

 100.0

Network excavated material

 60,118

 55,106

 91.7

Water sludge

 46,651

 46,651

 100.0

Grit & screenings

 21,547

 13,511

 62.7

Ash

 16,261

 16,261

 100.0

Office waste

 4,380

 4,306

 98.3

Hazardous waste

 4,394

 2,197*

 50.0*

Operational site waste

 2,372

 1,892

 79.8

Total

 730,313

 690,128

 94.5

 

*Hazardous waste is being reported for the first time. Assumption that 50% has been sent to valuable uses.

Sludge and process wastes are verified independently by auditors CH2M. Other waste is also subject to Environment Agency inspection and their annual audit. For hazardous waste a detailed consignment note process is followed.

Key performance areas:

Wastewater sludge: Our production of wastewater sludge and grit and screenings (bi-products from our wastewater treatment process) is highly dependent on what customers put down the drain. We have an active customer engagement campaign called “Think before you flush” aimed at reducing the input of inappropriate materials that lead to waste production, it also helps our customers protect their pipes from blockages.

Construction waste: accounted for 44% of waste in 2015/16. A lot of this is soil and stones and where possible a large proportion of this is reused on site, for example, in landscaping schemes. We have a bespoke reporting system, called Elevate, which is used to track and report our construction waste. We have tailored the tool to allow us to capture data on waste, aggregates, biodiversity, energy, water and environmental incidents. Our contractors are required, through their framework agreements, to monitor and record their waste produced, re-using and recycling wastes were possible.

Ash: generated by incinerating some of our sewage sludge and represents 2% of total waste produced. During 2015/16, our designated Waste Disposal and Recycling Manager led a project to improve the management of this ash. Ash is now blended with other materials for further use in aggregates and concrete block manufacture. As a result of this project we diverted 100% of ash produced from landfill, compared to 0% diverted from landfill last year.

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