Sorting construction waste is like putting money into a bank
In cooperation with L&T, the construction company NCC has managed, in a matter of two years, to reduce the portion of mixed waste subject to a charge in its residential construction sites to a quarter of what it was when the cooperation began. To NCC, this translates into hundreds of thousands in savings with respect to waste disposal costs.
NCC is strongly commitment to being a pioneer in construction according to the principles of sustainable development.
“We want to take care of this planet of ours,” says NCC’s Manager of Logistics Alexander Stefanov.
“The expansion of our cooperation with L&T was triggered by the fact that in late 2014, in line with our sustainable development strategy, we began to take a closer look at the waste generated in the construction of residential buildings. Our objective was to reduce the amount of unsorted mixed waste on our sites.”
The economic benefit to be gained from the increasingly efficient sorting of waste is another incentive for doing so. The treatment of unsorted mixed waste is subject to a charge. The smaller the amount of mixed waste being generated on sites is, the more savings you accrue.
Legislation also evolves continuously, which is another reason why the requirements applicable to waste treatment become stricter. By 2020, 70 per cent of construction waste should be recyclable. Stefanov does remark that, in this respect, NCC is, for once, an early bird, while being mindful of the fact that the sorting of waste is not the same thing as its recycling.
“What happens to the sorted waste after it leaves our sites is not always up to us. If some of the waste ends up being incinerated, it is, of course, contradictory to the thought of recycling.”
a tidier site is a safer site
NCC chose L&T to be its partner in the waste management of its residential construction sites in the metropolitan area at the beginning of 2015.
“Our previous partner could not provide us with a sorting concept. Given that we already had good experiences of L&T from elsewhere in Finland, we decided to try them on our construction sites in the metropolitan area as well.”
With the help of L&T, the sites have been equipped with energy waste compactors and skips with covers. Separate skips have been provided for gypsum; from these skips, the gypsum waste is returned to Gyproc for recycling. Compactors with nothing poking out of them are also a safety factor in the confined spaces of construction sites. Covered skips improve safety during transportation, since the winds cannot throw anything off the skip.
“We always agree on the things we’re going to sort during the initial phase in the kick-off meeting of a new site. Once the basic process has become functional, we begin developing it,” says Stefanov.
“To reduce the amount of mixed waste that ends up in landfills, we are continuously and actively, in cooperation with L&T, looking for new channels for the purposes of various smaller material flows, such as insulation wools and roofing felts.”
Ways to improve the entire site personnel’s awareness of sorting include the development of reporting so that it becomes increasingly clear.
“It is important for us that the reports are visually clear, so that they provide us with an easy way to show the site where we are in terms of waste. The information must be in a format that is as easily digestible as possible and, in this respect, L&T has done a good job by interviewing users and developing the reports’ visual look,” says Stefanov
continuous development as a way of working
Continuous development is an integral part of NCC and L&T’s cooperation. New ideas keep popping up continuously as a by-product of daily communications, and regular follow-up meetings serve as a forum for their sharing and further processing. A good example of such practical innovation is the mobile, 24/7 ordering system for skips, dubbed Raksanappi.
“Users have really liked the mobile app, even though their attitude toward it was initially skeptical. But over time, they’ve begun to sing a different tune, and no-one misses placing orders over the phone anymore,” says Stefanov. He compares Raksanappi to the enterprise resource planning system of waste management. The order enters the system directly, due to which the possibility for human error is eliminated. Orders also always leave a trace in the system.
hundreds of thousands in savings per year
According to Stefanov, the people on the sites have been very happy about how the sorting of waste has been developed in cooperation with L&T. Thanks to Raksanappi, skip orders are easier to do and more reliable. The number of occupational accidents has also declined, now that the sites have appropriate waste containers. The tidier working environment reduces the amount of stumbling and slipping.
“The sites are now competing over which one does the most sorting. The more we sort, the bigger our savings will be, and we are talking about hundreds of thousands in savings per year with regard to residential construction alone.”
In 2014, 60 per cent of the waste of NCC’s residential construction sites still consisted of mixed waste. As early as in 2015, the amount of mixed waste had been reduced to 37 per cent. The continuous enhancement and development of operations is manifest in the fact that, in 2016, mixed waste only accounted for 15–16 per cent of the waste of NCC’s residential construction sites.
If we compare the trend in the amount of mixed waste being generated on NCC’s sites to the net sales of residential construction, we can see that, whereas the amount of mixed waste generated in January–August 2014 corresponded to nearly two per cent of net sales, its amount in the corresponding period in 2016 was only about half a per cent of net sales.