Respect for the environment

Competition stokes a passion for sorting

Implenia has come up with a novel idea for improving the sorting of recyclable materials on its construction site for a new coastal highway in Norway. And now almost all construction waste ends up in the correct container.

Separating waste has become a firmly ingrained habit in most places – including on Implenia’s construction sites. Containers for different types of waste are provided on every project. But in the hustle and bustle of everyday working life, theory and practice sometimes don’t quite match up. This was the case at the K11 project, where at the start of 2019 only 90 percent of waste was being sorted properly. Used materials often ended up in the wrong container. 

K11 is currently Implenia’s largest project in the Norwegian city of Bergen. The company has been building a new coastal highway there since 2015. By the end of 2021 it will have built three tunnels totalling seven kilometres in length, as well as various sections of road, three wooden bridges, five portals and several technical buildings.

Environmental officers wanted to find a way of improving the unsatisfactory level of sorting, and came up with a few ideas. They started by checking the waste containers more often. Then they talked to the workers at the morning meeting about any problems they had noticed. 

They also put information posters up at the collection points to make things clearer, and organised courses for all on-site workers. As well as telling people the best way to sort recyclables, the courses provide information about what happens next to the materials. 

The most successful measure of all, however, was the introduction of an unofficial competition. The massive Bergen project is divided into three sections. The environmental officers put together a waste sorting report every month that documents the results separately for each section and shows where there is still room for improvement. 

All of a sudden, everyone involved became much more attentive to waste issues, because nobody wanted to come bottom of the rankings at the end of the month. Employees at all levels started to make an effort to improve sorting scores for their section.

Thanks to all these measures, Implenia has significantly increased the recycling rate at the project. In January 2020, exactly one year after the start of the campaign, the workers at K11 outdid themselves by correctly sorting 98.8 percent of the waste generated by the construction site. Theory and practice in perfect harmony.