28 March 2007 | Paul Snell
Buyers in the construction industry can help to tackle the industry's "endemic problem" with waste, but first they must change their purchasing habits.
This was the view from an industry roundtable, held last week by the construction consultancy John Rowan and Partners, to suggest ways to reduce the amount of waste produced by the building industry. It is responsible for 100 million tonnes of waste each year, 20 per cent of the UK's total.
The panel said buyers were often seen as an obstacle to change, because they buy on price rather than whole-life cost. Purchasers were told although bulk buying often meant a lower price, fewer savings would be made in the long term because of the cost of storage and the excess stock held.
Buying materials to meet demand would reduce the need for storage, produce less waste and increase businesses' cash flow.
The pressure to keep costs down was also cited as a barrier to improving the sustainability of the supply chain. Project costs automatically take account of the amount of material expected to end up as waste. The roundtable said if there were more collaborative contracts with suppliers, there would be more transparency and an incentive to reduce waste together.