Climate change is now everyone’s concern, and black women-owned construction leader Concor’s efforts to operate more efficiently and sustainably include the way it deals with its construction waste.
According to Leah Nwedamutswu, quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) officer at Concor, the company’s commitment to Zero Harm embraces staff, the community and the environment. Growing awareness of climate change imperatives has led the company to develop performance strategies to carefully manage water use, energy consumption and process waste.
“This includes preventing pollution emanating from our industrial processes, which means spreading this message to all staff and subcontractors on our project sites,” says Nwedamutswu. “Our critical environmental standards are in place, and we actively assess and manage our risks and opportunities.”
The environmental management plans (EMPs) and authorisations of Concor’s clients are also embedded in the daily work processes, ensuring that the company can play its role in supporting the client’s compliance responsibilities.
This commitment has recently been expressed by Concor at its projects in the Oxford Parks mixed-use precinct in Rosebank, Johannesburg, where it is proceeding with its sixth Green Star-rated building. Nwedamutswu highlights the company’s waste hierarchy system, which it has applied over the years to ensure that waste is effectively reduced, reused and recycled.
“We have a detailed and ongoing focus on the natural resources that we consume in construction, and recognise that these are finite and precious,” she says. “The care with which we manage our waste also enhances health and safety on site.”
The waste management system prioritises separating the waste at source, and dedicates human resources to ensure that building rubble, wood, steel or plastic is properly sorted and placed in the right containers or skips. This prevents contamination of the various waste streams, allowing each stream to be more efficiently and cost effectively recycled.
“Implementing our system requires both discipline and education, especially as we employ many smaller companies as subcontractors, who may not initially give the same priority to environmental protection,” she says. “We therefore actively communicate our policies and requirements, and expect our partners on site to be as serious about waste management as we are.”
Specialised recycling service providers play an important role in Concor’s waste management supply chain, as they help to optimise the levels of waste that can by recycled.
Dumping in landfill is considered an absolute last resort, and this must be kept to a minimum. Even building rubble can be pulverised and re-used in certain applications, as long as it is not contaminated by other materials.
“Our strict policies require that we also monitor the integrity of our waste supply chain, to confirm that the various streams of waste actually go where they are supposed to,” says Nwedamutswu. “This is done by double-checking the weighbridge documentation we receive from our waste service providers, and these must match our own records of waste leaving the site.”