Five ways to improve recycling at your site< Back to Blog

The construction industry is the largest consumer of natural resources in the UK and responsible for 33% of all waste.

We’ve talked about this problem in our blog before but, because it’s such an important topic for the sector, we think it’s worth coming back to again.

Every skip or container of waste carries a cost – representing a huge threat to our environment and financially impacting on the profitability of any construction company.

However, there are ways of overcoming both the environmental and financial impact – re-using and recycling.

Here, we take a look at five ways in which the average building site can make improvements around recycling.

Top tips:

1. Segregation

Efficient segregation of waste on site is an essential part of any waste management plan and vital for ensuring recycling takes place wherever possible. All workers should be trained in basic segregation procedures and supervisors/ managers need to put aside time to monitor exactly how well those procedures are being adhered to. You could also try introducing an incentive scheme to reward positive actions.

The site should also include a secure storage area with containers for different types of recyclable and non-recyclable waste clearly labelled. (A colour-coded system might work well.)

2. Deconstruction (instead of demolition)

While demolition involves clearing a site of its pre-existing building/s by the quickest means (resulting in a pile of rubble), with a deconstruction process, the building is dismantled selectively, salvaging components that can be re-used, re-purposed or recycled. If you have no use for the items yourself, you can move them on by listing them on a ‘re-use marketplace’. With Globalchain, for instance, all listed construction components are made available for free collection by charities, SMEs and individuals.

3. Build it back

Reducing the need to buy costly new materials makes integrating ‘waste’ back into your building site the smart option. With remodelling projects this can happen organically (especially where some reconfiguration and redecoration are all that’s needed) but this is not always the case.

Other ways of re-using existing materials include carrying out repairs on materials that are only slightly damaged; storing leftover materials from one job to be used at another site; or working with others in the industry to identify opportunities where materials can be exchanged for mutual benefit.

4. Select suppliers with care

Pricing is always a big factor for anyone with buying responsibilities in construction but, to improve recycling, it’s important to also consider how suppliers can support your waste management strategy.

The ideal is a supplier that allows phased deliveries (helping you to effectively manage on-site storage) and who offers a take-back scheme that will enable you sell or send excess materials and packaging back to them.

5. Make a waste-management plan for each type of material

Different products and materials come with different recycling capabilities and limitations and so require individual strategies for improvement. With bricks/blocks, for instance, you could look at how you separate waste from these two products to avoid damage and contamination. For insulation, you might re-assess storage areas to ensure they provide adequate protection from accidental and weather damage and that there’s enough space to store off-cuts and partially used rolls (so that they’re ready for re-use as required).

NIBusiness Info has produced a handy guide which includes more detailed explanations of how to recycle or re-use different construction materials plus advice about how to incorporate recycled materials into your construction projects.

Over to you…

Waste is clearly something that the construction sector must get to grips with. We hope these tips help you to improve recycling methods at your site but would love to hear your suggestions too.

  • What materials do you think are the easiest and hardest to recycle?
  • Have you found any innovative ways of re-using materials?
  • Are you using any zero waste products or take-back schemes?

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


Main image source: Freepik