Zero Avoidable Packaging waste in construction

About the ZAP project

The problem

There is little recent, substantive data and a lack of holistic understanding of the various packaging types that are used for the array of products that enter a construction site and its management both on and offsite. Construction as a sector is the second-highest consumer of plastics.

The solution

The ZAP Project will research and develop scalable solutions to help combat the prevalence of avoidable packaging plastic waste in construction, much of which is not recycled. Working with project partners, the funded project will link with real-world construction projects to build case studies and develop training and guidance that will demonstrate the positive actions the whole supply chain and sector can do, helping many organisations reach zero avoidable waste.

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Project objectives

Evaluate potential interventions for plastic packaging which could include material substitution; optimisation; reusable systems; recycling with the stakeholders from the construction packaging supply chain, including clients, designers, suppliers, distributors, installers and the resource management sector.

At least 5 interventions will be prioritised through

  • Data capture from representative construction projects (Mace and Morgan Sindall) combined with wider survey/ structured interviews
  • High-level impact evaluation 
  • High-level opportunities & barriers analysis across the value (supply chain)

They will be robustly assessed for business as usual versus alternatives such as:

  • Elimination of single-use plastic packaging
  • Retained ownership & extended responsibility (reuse and closed-loop recycling (take back)) by suppliers
  • Third party packaging collection schemes
  • Material substitution, such as bioplastics

Marlborough Sports Garden

Working with Cullinan Studio and the Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST), the redevelopment of the Marlborough Sports Garden in London will act as a case study to understand the ability to design out packaging waste in construction and operation and how to specify and procure responsible packaging stewardship.

Cullinan Studio has been appointed to transform Marlborough Sports Garden into a colourful, state-of-the-art mixed sports facility, promoting health and wellbeing, and which is freely available to local school pupils, other children and young people, particularly those who are living in poverty. Cullinan Studio shares BOST’s ambition to apply circular economy thinking to the design and will work together to find how local people, particularly young people, can get involved in all stages of the project.

Expected outcomes

Guidance will be produced with key points in projects where decisions are made that make a significant difference in the use and type of packaging and its management as a waste. This will be supplemented with dissemination events and workshops. Resources whcih will include checklists, case studies, training materials, procurement wording and specifications will be made freely available. This is expected to have the following outcomes: 

  • Accelerate the reduction and improving the management of packaging used in the construction sector whilst ensuring there are no unintended consequences
  • Dissemination of knowledge of environmental impacts of packaging through the project team and wider networks creating a legacy of construction professionals who are aware of the issues and can implement lessons learnt in their future work
  • Assist in providing more transparency on how packaging is currently managed on and off-site
  • Increased levels of awareness within the design and project teams of onsite plastic packaging waste, robust costed solutions and the opportunities for optimisation, reduction, reuse and recycling
  • Negating the use of virgin fossil-fuel based materials through improved packaging waste management across the construction sector

Project partners

The Ecosurety Exploration Fund

The ZAP Project has been awarded funding by the Ecosurety Exploration Fund. The fund was first launched in November 2019 with a view to providing a visible funding route for companies, charities, not-for-profits, academic institutions and the public sector working on projects addressing the environmental challenges presented by packaging, batteries or e-waste. Applicants could apply for up to £150k for projects that could be completed over a 12-month period. The fund has now completed and has supported seven projects in total, with some recently reaching fruition including the innovative CellMine and BOSS 2D technologies.

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Find out more

To find out more about the project, please contact Larry Tate –

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