Policy CC/CE: Reducing waste and supporting the circular economy

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will control how developers should manage the waste generated by construction, how new developments should provide for waste and recycling storage and collection, and how circular economy principles should be considered in development proposals.

Proposed policy direction

During construction, require Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMP). The level of information provided in the CEMP should be proportionate to the scale and nature of the proposed development but should include an outline of the approach to site waste management and how construction waste will be addressed following the waste hierarchy and the 5 r’s of waste management: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.

All proposals must provide adequate, flexible and easily accessible storage space and collection systems in line with the requirements of the RECAP Waste Management Design Guide (or successor documents).  Proposals that exceed these requirements or propose innovative approaches to waste management will be supported.

All major developments should submit a Circular Economy Statement, either as a stand-alone document or as part of the CEMP, setting out: 

  • How materials arising from demolition and remediation works will be reused and/or recycled; 

  • How the proposals design and construction will reduce material demands and enable building materials, components and products to be disassembled and re-used at the end of their useful life, following design for disassembly principles.

Why is this policy needed?

Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy (2018) aims to eliminate avoidable wastes of all types by 2050 in England.  This includes waste from all sectors, including construction.  The construction sector is the largest user of materials in the UK and produces the biggest waste stream in terms of tonnage.  Statistics from Defra show that in 2016, 63% (120 million tonnes) of the total waste stream in England (189 million tonnes) was attributed to construction, demolition and excavation waste, with 60 million tonnes of this (50%) from construction and demolition.  Of this over 90% is recovered, with waste such as concrete, brick and asphalt being downcycled for future use as aggregates. However this does beg the question how much of this waste is avoidable and could such waste be reused for higher value uses? This would help to prevent the need for the manufacture of new materials, which is an important element in achieving net zero carbon. Furthermore efficient recycling of waste places less demands on natural and virgin resources, thereby conserving environments.

A circular economy is one where materials are retained in use at their highest value for as long as possible and are then reused or recycled, leaving a minimum of residual waste.  Application of circular economy principles to the built environment creates places where buildings are designed for adaptation, reconstruction and deconstruction, extending the useful life of buildings and allowing for the salvage of building components and materials for reuse or recycling, known as design for disassembly. Policies to extend the useful life of buildings as well as ensuring that, at the end of a buildings life, its constituent parts are easily reused and retain maximum value, are also an important element of reducing the environmental impact of construction.  Taking such an approach reduces the need to extract raw materials and the manufacture of new building components, further reducing global carbon emissions and assisting with the achievement of net zero carbon. 

What consultation have we done on this issue?

In the First Conversation we asked about how the Local Plan should help us achieve net zero carbon by 2050. Feedback of relevance to this policy included that we should consider a circular economy and require new developments to provide a Circular Economy Statement. We should support development that prioritises resource efficiency. Other issues were highlighted including the need to invest in innovative technologies for dealing with waste, and to improve recycling and use recyclable packaging materials in shops and for development.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy, leave to the Minerals and Waste Plan - This is not the preferred approach as the Minerals and Waste Plan does not give consideration to construction waste and as such there would be a policy gap in relation to this important element of achieving net zero carbon. 

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Net Zero Carbon Study (2021) 

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018 

  • Policy CC/6: Construction Methods 

Cambridge Local Plan 2018 

  • Policy 28: Carbon reduction, community energy networks, sustainable design and construction and water use. 

  • Policy 57: Designing new buildings 

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