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 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.

In 2016/17, we improved our performance by diverting 94.7% of our total waste produced to beneficial use, or just over 480,000 wet tonnes. We continue to drive for improved waste performance, which is reflected by a decrease of waste taken to landfill at 5.3%, or 27,283 wet tonnes. This demonstrates an improvement in the way in which we are managing the sustainable disposal of our waste.

Waste type Waste producted (wet tonnes) Waste diverted to beneficial use (wet tonnes) % diverted to beneficial use
Construction 133,011 119,883 90.1%
Wastewater sludge 252,712  252,712 100%
Network excavated material 47,715 46,187 96.8%
Water sludge 44,970 44,970 100%
Grit & screenings 19,785 8,295  41.9%
Ash 12,899 12,899 100%
Office waste 529 529 100%
Hazardous waste 535 225* 42%*
Operational site waste  2,140 1,537 71.8%
Total 514,295 487,012 94.7%

 *Assumption that 42% of hazardous waste 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:

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, 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 26% of waste in 2016/17. 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 is generated by incinerating some of our sewage sludge and represented 2.5% of total waste produced in 2016/17. We have improved the management of this ash, which is now blended with other materials for further use in aggregates and concrete block manufacture. As a result, we now divert 100% of ash produced from landfill.

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