Waste not, want not

A pilot scheme to reduce waste management costs on site is proving a success for BFK and the National Community Wood Recycling project.

As part of BFK’s environmental policy to try to reduce the construction waste we produce, we are always looking at ways to recycle or reuse our waste to prevent it from going to landfill.

At Westbourne Park, the team has started to make use of the National Community Wood Recycling Scheme instead of sending waste wood off site with a standard waste contractor where it is typically chipped for incineration.   The wood waste collection scheme aims to save resources by re-using and recycling waste timber whilst also creating jobs, training and volunteering opportunities for disadvantaged people.  For BFK, it has meant that not only have we reduced our waste disposal costs but have also helped to bring around positive change to people’s lives out in the community.

Re-use vs recycling

The scheme claims to be the only one focused on re-using construction wood, others tend to recycle it. Statistically, re-use is better than recycling by one tonne of CO2 for every tonne of wood waste.  So far, Westbourne Park has generated wood for two collections for the St Albans site and which have been put to a variety of good uses.  A set of pallets has been taken apart and used to convert a shop into a café. Some planks of wood were used at local allotments as stakes for raised beds and the local Scout Group benefited from the offcuts for their firewood. It was only the chipboard that went to be recycled into biofuel.       

Collecting the Westbourne Park timber has really helped Sam, a volunteer based at the St Albans depot disassembling pallets.  As a supported volunteer with a learning disability he receives regular visits from his key worker, although he can work alone.  Since being a volunteer he has increased his confidence, fitness and social integration and has also been able to increase his hours from 2 short afternoons a week to 4 long afternoons.

Site champion - John Wiggans

Making the scheme work for BFK is down to John Wiggans who has been championing the scheme on site at Westbourne Park. Take a walk around the site with John and you will hear voices from every corner calling out for his advice on what to do with their spare timber. Talk to John and he beams with enthusiasm for the Western Tunnels project. ‘This is the best job I have ever worked on, there is a really good team spirit here at Westbourne Park.’

John likes it so much, he has introduced his sons to the Western Team and all are based at Westbourne Park: Blake is the banksman for the forklifts whilst studying for his NVQ in ground work; Steve is an apprentice electrical engineer, and Billy is working with the loco’ fitter.        

Tom Howdon, Environmental Manager comments: ‘It’s great to see this scheme take off, thank you to Duncan Morris and Alan Buttner for sorting out the contract and also to John Wiggans and Steve Turner for making sure it works on site.’

Ali Walmsley, Assistant Director of Community Wood Recycling agrees: ‘We are very excited to be working on the Crossrail contract and are grateful for the Team at BFK for being open to trying something different.  What makes us different is that we are emphasising the re-use of waste whilst also providing work for disadvantaged people. We are really looking forward to proving the same service to other BFK sites too.’

Photo shows John Wiggans at the timber collection point at Westbourne Park.