Recycled materials cut construction costs

15 January 2007
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15 January 2007 | Antony Barton

Construction firms are using more recycled materials in building projects to increase sustainability and reduce costs, according to a UK recycling agency.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) also claimed both private and public sector organisations are setting themselves targets for the use of recycled construction material. Last month, for example, the Scottish Executive asked all Scottish public bodies to set a recommended target of at least 10 per cent for recycled and re-used materials in construction projects over £1 million.

David Moon, Wrap programme manager for construction procurement, told "This is something contractors can do to make a significant difference and the case studies on our website show that it doesn't need to cost more. Conserving energy and water in construction design costs more upfront, but brings savings in the long term. The use of high recycled content means either saving money or at least being cost neutral."

Cost savings are possible through initiatives such as installing a mobile crushing and screening plant on the construction site to recycle material and avoid transport and landfill costs. Moon said Balfour Beatty's widening of the M25 used 800,000 tonnes of recycled aggregate, reprocessed on site or from other construction projects in the vicinity. This saved the contractor about £4 a tonne compared with using standard materials.

Moon said the reason the procurement of recycled material hadn't become standard practice was a lack of awareness, especially of the amount of recycled material available. "It takes a client's mandate to get the supply chain to address this issue and realise the opportunities."


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