What Is a Waste Management Plan?

A waste management plan is an important document that sets out a clear plan for how waste will be handled on a construction site. It will detail how and when waste is generated, identifies responsible parties and details any hazardous or controlled waste that needs to be disposed of. The plan will also outline how waste will be reduced, recycled and reused. It is a living document that is updated throughout the project as processes are streamlined, costs are recorded and waste volumes tracked in accordance with predictions.

New York City’s Department of Sanitation handles 12,000 tons of waste daily, disposing of residential and institutional waste and collecting commercial waste through private carters. It has long faced challenges in equitably distributing sanitation infrastructure and minimizing environmental impacts. Its current Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP), which was adopted in 2006, lays out a 20-year strategy.

The SWMP sets aggressive recycling targets. But it may struggle to meet those goals if trends continue. Its diversion rate—the proportion of total waste stream tonnage that is diverted from landfills to recycling and composting—has fallen since the SWMP was adopted, despite projections that it would rise. This decline is a result of fewer reusable materials in the waste stream and not an inability to capture recyclables.

A key component of the SWMP is its requirement that contractors set aside space for waste containers. This space must be a minimum of 3 cubic yards and should be located on site. It must be clearly marked with signage and accessible to all employees. The space must also be protected from weather and other unforeseen events, including theft.

Creating an effective waste management plan requires all stakeholders to buy in and be involved. This includes the client, architect, contractor and site managers. All parties should have an understanding of the benefits of reducing waste, including financial savings and environmental gains. A good way to ensure everyone is on board is to conduct a waste audit and then discuss the results with the team.

It is important that all staff have training on how to identify, handle and dispose of hazardous waste. This is especially true for any members of the team that are responsible for the accumulation, storage or relocation of hazardous waste. Training should be repeated on a regular basis and employees must sign off that they have received the appropriate training.

By creating a waste management plan, businesses save money and time and reduce their environmental impact. They can streamline processes and reduce the amount of waste they produce by avoiding over-ordering. They can also avoid the need to hire additional skips for oversized waste and reduce waste disposal fees by planning ahead. In addition, waste management plans are a great tool for ensuring all processes are legal and comply with the relevant regulations. They will also help to maintain a safe working environment.

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