A green approach to waste management

By Gill Harris on 15 October, 2018

Today sees the start of Green GB Week, the first ever week dedicated to tackling climate change.

Organisations around the country are being encouraged to showcase the efforts they make to help protect the planet.

MJ Church is one such company that puts sustainability at the heart of everything it does.

Based in Chippenham, the firm is one of the largest civil engineering, earthworks and waste management contractors in the South West.

The company, which has been going since 1974, believes construction services can make a major contribution to a more sustainable world and states it is “committed to effective environmental management at all levels”.

Carol Heneghan, business development and marketing manager, said: “There is quite a bit we do, from reuse of construction and demolition waste into recycled aggregates used back in the construction process, particularly as a base material for roads, to getting sites ready for construction. Other demolition items such as uPVC windows and plasterboard are recycled back into the supply chain for new windows and new plaster board.

“As a waste business we divert 97% to 98% of the waste from landfill – this means that any materials that can be recycled are recycled; around 30%, the remainder of the non-recyclable material, is sent to ‘Waste to Energy’ plants in the UK – this is where waste is converted to energy. With the materials we send to these plants, the power output is enough for around 10,500 homes a year.”

Carol added that there are some less obvious approaches to sustainability that MJ Church embraces as a business, for instance in its approach to technology. Its plants are guided by a system called Trimble, which enables pinpoint accuracy when excavation and earthworks are undertaken, meaning fewer materials are taken off-site, resulting in less carbon emission as fewer miles are travelled.

“When moving materials off-site we always look for the most efficient means. For example, a recent project required 60,000 tonnes of materials to be taken off site to another site some five or six miles away. We worked with a local land owner to open up a hedge to reduce the mileage down to around one mile,” Carol said.

“A tipper truck takes 20 tonnes, meaning 3,000 movements at six miles equals 18,000 miles; with the reduced mileage we got it down to 3,000 miles, again massive impact on carbon, as well as an impact locally due to fewer vehicles on the road. We are also now increasing our vehicle payloads so they can take up to 25 tonnes, again reducing road miles.”

And it is not just within the business that MJ Church is doing its bit for the environment – in September, the MJ Church Charitable Foundation sponsored the Chippenham Half Marathon, which this year took a green approach, giving runners water pouches made from seaweed, rather than single use plastic bottles.