Could more recycled materials go into construction projects?< Back to Blog

Over the last few years, our blog has frequently come back to the importance of recycling materials on site to reduce waste.

One area we’ve not covered so far, however, is whether it’s possible to find end-uses for more recycled materials within construction projects.

The answer is, of course, yes!

Not only is it possible, but using recycled or recovered materials can actually bring many business benefits.



Here’s a few of those benefits:

  • Reducing costs of materials
  • Increasing competitive advantage
  • Reducing CO2 emissions
  • Meeting planning requirements
  • Responding to changes in public policy (e.g. increases in Landfill Tax)
  • Meeting client or internal policy requirements
  • Building a reputation for eco-design

What are the end-uses for recycled materials?

While there are some limitations in terms of how, where and when certain recycled materials can be used in construction, there are lots of options for things like glass, wood, plastics, aggregates, tiles, plasterboard and more. Here’s just a few examples of the potential end-uses for a selection of recovered materials:

Plasterboard and gypsum

  • New plasterboard products via suppliers’ take-back schemes
  • Fermacell (dry-lining board for walls, ceilings and floors)
  • Unfired clay-gypsum blocks
  • Slope stabilisation
  • Road foundation construction
  • Bathroom furniture mouldings

Plastics

  • Damp proof membranes
  • Drainage pipes
  • Ducting
  • Flooring
  • Fillers (thermoset plastics)
  • Packaging
  • Landscaping – e.g. walkways, jetties, pontoons, bridges, fences and signs
  • Street furniture – e.g. seating, bins, street signs and planters

Wood

  • Chipboard, oriented strand board and fibreboard manufacture
  • Play surfaces and pathways
  • Architectural components
  • Landscaping
  • Biofuel for combined heat and power plant

Aggregates (e.g. sand, gravel, crushed stone, recycled concrete/brick/asphalt etc)

  • Bituminous (asphalt) road construction
  • Ground improvements
  • Earthworks – cuttings and embankments
  • Utilities reinstatement
  • Shallow foundations
  • Shallow and deep foundations
  • Buildings – residential and industrial

Recycled and secondary aggregates (RSA) may also be used in a range of commonly used construction materials, such as concrete and asphalt.

Making the decision to use more construction materials

You can propose to use more recycled materials in your construction project at various stages including during the design phase and the process of choosing subcontractors. Here’s a few key steps to follow:

  • Look at any requirements for recycled content set out by the client or within your own company policies
  • Ensure the design team make an estimate of the likely amount of recycled content
  • Get specific about the options that are suitable for your project
  • Choose some quick wins and get planning for the long-term
  • Set up reporting methods so as to provide real evidence of the recycled content used in your project

Do you have any tips for how to use more recycled materials in construction projects?

Tell us your thoughts over on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

Related blog: Improving recycling practices for key construction materials

16.03.2020

Image source: Freepik

Information source: NIbusinessinfo