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Homebuilders and the School collaborate to research packaging waste

Published 06th Oct 20 - by Emily McBride

Homebuilders and the Supply Chain Sustainability School collaborate to research packaging waste

Three of the UK’s largest homebuilders – Barratt Developments, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey – are collaborating on research to tackle the problem of packaging waste in the homebuilding sector.

Working through the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s Waste and Resource Efficiency Group, and supported by Zero Waste Scotland, this research project will apply learning from the retail sector by researching packaging waste at its manufacturing and supply sources, rather than the traditional way of examining waste streams in the skip.

Research shows that most dry mixed recyclable waste across the built environment is packaging, and with the new Plastic Packaging Tax set to jump to £200 per tonne in April 2022, this project will seek to gain a detailed understanding of packaging flows from a combined list of the three housebuilders’ top 50 suppliers.

By establishing the size of the problem, the project will guide those who work with suppliers to reduce waste, and importantly, move to a circular rather than linear economy. Considerations will include; where to reduce waste at source, new ways and materials to transport materials to site safely and securely, increasing recycled content within packaging, and re-using or recycling more packaging materials.

Stephen Boyle, Construction Spokesperson for Zero Waste Scotland, said,

“I’m delighted that three of the industry’s leading homebuilders have come together. By collaborating we will be able to tackle this problem quicker and more effectively than by taking individual actions.

“All of us are faced with tougher legal requirements and increased producer responsibilities, but importantly, as consumers we no longer accept the environmental cost of packaging waste.

“The data collected will be used to help develop a constructive dialogue with suppliers, manufacturers, home builders and waste contractors aimed at helping us all to tackle this significant problem.”

The project will be using Valpak’s Insight Platform, a state-of-the-art data collection platform that has been used extensively in the retail sector to help the UK’s largest retailers understand their packaging waste streams.

The Platform will provide access and visibility into packaging handled by the home builders. It is hoped that through this project the methodology will also be applied to other hot spots of packaging waste in the built environment such as infrastructure, commercial fit out and facilities management.

Matt Nichols, Divisional Director of Reconomy, who chairs the Waste and Resource Efficiency Group for the School said,

“Homebuilders, like other operators in the built environment, are doing a lot to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. But there is still a long way to go to re-think the problem and reduce the volume of packaging waste ending up in skips on project sites.

“This research project will enable us to identify where packaging waste is coming from and establish much more detail on the types of packaging waste ultimately being generated. We will use this knowledge to work with our School Partners and their supply chains to find a better way forward.”


Useful links:

  • According to the WRAP Plastics Market Situation Report for 2016, the UK construction and demolition sector was responsible for around 50,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste – below the 1.53 million tonnes produced by the retail sector, but still significant.
  • 45% is the current UK recycling rate for plastics packaging, including construction.
  • The new Plastic Packaging Tax will come into effect from April 2022, costing £200 per tonne and applies to plastic packaging produced in, or imported into, the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Read more on the tax on the HM Government website.
  • You can access the Supply Chain Sustainability School’s free resources on Plastics and Packaging. It is free to register and learn.