What is a SWMP?

Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) became a legal requirement for all English construction projects worth over £300,000 on 6th April 2008. If a project commenced before 1 July 2008, a SWMP is not required.

The aim of the SWMP is to provide a framework for managing waste on site to reduce the amount sent to landfill. It must identify the different types of waste likely to be produced by the project and consider how to reduce, re-use and recycle the waste and measure the actual quantities of waste produced.

The client should undertake the initial preparation of each project’s SWMP, with the contractor taking responsibility for its implementation on site. Work on site must not commence unless there is a SWMP in place.

The SWMP is a live document that must be updated throughout the course of the project. As it is produced at the very beginning, the designer should consider ways that waste can be reduced and site materials reused or recycled as part of the project. Identifying all waste materials that cannot be reused will make it easier to find other alternatives for them.

Clients Responsibilities:

  • Production of the initial SWMP before construction work begins
  • Appointing the principal contractor
  • Passing the SWMP to the principal contractor
  • Updating the SWMP if they decide to manage the project themselves

Principal Contractor Responsibilities

  • Obtaining all relevant information from the sub-contractors
  • Updating the SWMP at least every 3 months as the project progresses
  • Keeping the SWMP on site throughout the project
  • Ensuring that all contractors and the client know where the SWMP is kept
  • Allowing all contractors and the client access to the SWMP
  • Handing back the SWMP to the client on completion of works
  • Keeping a copy of the SWMP for two years

The level of detail required in the SWMP depends on the estimated build cost, excluding VAT.

For projects estimated at between £300,000 and £500,000 (ex VAT) the SWMP should contain:

  • The types of waste removed from site
  • Identity of the person/company who removed the waste
  • Site that the waste is taken to.

For projects estimated over £500,000 (ex VAT) the SWMP should contain:

  • the types of waste removed from site
  • identity of the person/company who removed the waste
  • their waste carrier registration number
  • a description of the waste
  • site that the waste was taken to
  • environmental permit or exemption held by the site where the material is taken.


Additional Guidance

Step 1

Identify who is responsible for the production of the SWMP and ensuring that it is followed. One person needs to be in charge and responsible for updating the plan throughout the project.

Step 2

Identify the types and quantities of waste that will be produced at all stages of the project, working out in advance what materials will be used. Estimate how much waste will be produced and set realistic targets for how much will be able to be reused, recycled or disposed of.

Step 3

Identify waste management options including reference to the waste hierarchy, on and off-site options and paying particular attention to arrangements for identifying and managing any hazardous wastes produced (i.e. plasterboard).

The Waste Hierarchy

  • Reduction
  • Re-use
  • Recycling and Composting
  • Energy recovery
  • Disposal

The best options available for recycling and disposal of the sites various waste streams must be identified, including where, when and what sort of materials can be reused, recycled or disposed of both on and off site. All waste must be stored and disposed of responsibly and a record kept of all waste disposed of or transferred through waste transfer notes.

Step 4

When using a specialist waste disposal contractor, we must know how and where the waste is to be disposed of and that the company responsible comply with all legal responsibilities.

Step 5

Where applicable we must ensure all necessary in-house and sub-contract staff are aware of the requirements of the SWMP. Everyone must be aware of the importance of asking for and recording the correct paperwork, receipts and destinations for materials.

Step 6

Pre-order materials to specification at the design stage and avoid over ordering. Bear in mind any limitations of the location of the site. Consider using recycled or previously used materials.

Step 7

Measure how much waste and what types are produced and compare them against the SWMP to ensure all waste is managed properly. Measurements should be set to compare with future projects for volume (number of skips), value (cost of disposal) and weight (weighbridge tickets).

Step 8

The SWMP must be monitored for effectiveness to ensure that all is going to plan and be prepared to update the plan if circumstances change.

Step 9

Review the SWMP at the end of the project and identify any learning points for the next time. By the end of the project the SWMP should give an accurate record of how effectively the materials have been managed and how well the targets for waste management were met.


Q. Does it cost me to have a SWMP produced?

A. No, we offer this service free of charge, but we may need to charge you for weighing of skips at external sites if this is required.

Q. How often are SWMPs produced?

A. We can offer them weekly, monthly or to suit whichever period you require.

Q. Can I choose a format for my SWMP?

A. Yes, if you wish to see your SWMP by each site then this can be specified, or alternatively we can offer a one-page summary of skips, weights and recycling percentages.

Q. How do I get my site SWMP underway?

A. Either let us know when you are tendering for a job or when you are ready to start so we can be accurate in our record keeping. We will need to know frequency, format and who to send the report to via email.

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