UK: New building sector technique prioritises recycling

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The UK construction industry has issued a number of recommendations to address its waste management problem.

The sector is considered to be the largest consumer of raw materials in the country with an annual consumption of 400 million tons. This generates 100 million tons of waste every year.

To shake off its unfavorable reputation as a resource hog, the construction industry has published a “Routemap to Zero Avoidable Waste in Construction”.

The strategy was developed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), a joint industry and government initiative aimed at strengthening the sector’s sustainability footprint.

In cooperation with the Ministry for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), BEIS and the Green Construction Board (GCB), the strategy offers guidelines for “increasing efficiency, saving CO2 and cutting costs”.

The roadmap proposes the reuse and recycling of building materials, the promotion of more sustainable building design and renovation via demolition to achieve the stated goals. Eliminating waste in landfills by reusing building materials could reduce CO2 emissions by 3.3 million tons.

The strategy advocates reuse, particularly those related to planned demolitions by 2030, and propose audits to identify material that can be used in the next generation of construction work. A more cost-effective and sustainable construction solution was identified as a more widespread use of modular construction, in which components such as walls, floors, roofs, doors and windows are prefabricated and then assembled on site.

CLC co-chair Andy Mitchell, who is the CEO of the London Tideway project, said the route map “shows the industry a way to reduce the significant amount of waste it generates and its impact on the environment” .

“It will encourage many in the industry to take a new approach to a subject that is considered familiar, but it’s one where we need to see some real change,” he said. “The CLC is helping GCB improve our overall resource efficiency and through the Performance Framework we will be able to show the industry’s progress on this important issue.”

However, waste reduction in the construction sector ultimately depends on the willingness to break away from established ways of working in the construction industry, which the CLC also recognizes.