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Ask the fellows...

Waste is endemic in the construction industry, and with growing concern for the sustainability of construction and ever-tougher landfill regulations, something has got to be done about it. But what?

Kotuku spent two years researching the problem. They cycled 450 miles round the streets of four London boroughs: Lambeth, Wandsworth, Kensington & Chelsea, and Hammersmith & Fulham logging every building site and their waste system. Armed with data on who was doing what, and where, they interviewed builders, architects, quantity surveyors, skip hire companies, builders' merchants and - crucially - clients posing a series of questions on environmental issues.

The results of these discussions paint a fascinating, and occasionally surprising, picture of current construction practice. Most of the people questioned had not thought about the environmental impact of their construction work. Indeed waste was not seen as a mark of failure, but an indicator of success.

When asked what should be done they said:

  • Increase the cost of waste disposal? This would have a negative impact - costs would simply be passed down the line to clients.
  • More legislation? There is already a large body of environmental legislation, but the industry tends to ignore it.
  • Improve risk management? The contractual nature of the industry means that waste is always "someone else's problem"; only a radical culture change would make people take their responsibilities seriously.
  • Rewards for good environmental practice? This would be viewed favourably by many builders and could help to influence others, providing the real cost benefits were clearly demonstrated.

But the resounding message from the survey was that improving education and communication at site-level would have an immediate and positive impact.

This, together with lessons learnt during the surveys about how best to get in touch with the "fellows" who are creating the waste, led directly to the development of the Cafe Van project.

Download the report

The full report is available by clicking the link below.

Download the report (PDF)


‘Ask The Fellows...’ is recommended reading for anyone who is working towards reducing construction waste and inefficiency and increasing profitability. It is of particular interest to the various departments, agencies and environmental organisations who have waste minimisation on their agendas - especially local authorities, who are seeking ways to reduce the amount of materials sent to landfill.

‘Ask The Fellows...’ and the Cafe Van projects were funded by: London Remade (£50,000); Islington Enterprise Agency (£133,466); Envirowise (£43,470); and Envirowise Wales (£13,690).

Read the report
Download a copy of our "Ask The Fellows..." report (PDF)

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