Construction mounts major effort to minimise and reuse waste

The biggest producer of bulk waste going to landfill, construction and demolition, is the subject of a major survey as the industry continues to make progress on the minimisation, reuse and recycling fronts. Other sectors are also maintaining their commitment to recycling

Construction and demolition waste (C&DW), which accounts for a high proportion of material going to landfill, is the subject of an extensive survey by the Environment Agency in England and Wales this month (February).

The aim of the survey is to produce consistent figures of the amounts of construction waste produced, recycled and disposed of. Three distinct postal surveys will be carried out, at the same time, covering:
  • all known operators of the types of crushers used to turn concrete, bricks and masonry and similar materials into aggregates.
  • all licensed landfills and registered sites permitted to receive either mixed construction and demolition waste or soil (both clean and contaminated).
  • all registered exempt sites which are permitted to receive either mixed construction or demolition waste or soil.
The results will form part of the waste management information presented to the Environment Agency's regional reports, Strategic Waste Management Assessments to be published in June. They will also be used by the DETR to inform policy on the use of alternatives to sand, gravel and crushed rock as part of the current review of planning guidance on the supply of aggregates.

The construction industry has been increasing its efforts over recent years to deal with construction waste and to give higher priority to waste minimisation. The industry's research body, CIRIA, has identified the lack of implementation of waste minimisation as a widespread problem in construction. The work carried out by CIRIA has included a series of five regional workshops dealing specifically with this problem. CIRIA also recently published Case study report RP582/1 on Waste minimisation in housing construction, showing how, at Langley Park, Laing Homes' largest housing development, waste reduction, reuse and recycling practices are being encouraged on site.

Action includes: the reuse of 500,000 roofing tiles from demolished buildings, the reuse of 40,000 tonnes of demolition spoil as sub-base; and the implementation of waste minimisation initiatives. The case study is the first in a set of ten.

Last year CIRIA also published The reclaimed and recycled construction materials handbook (C513), which provides guidance and information on both the approach to using reclaimed and recycled materials, as well as the available materials and products themselves.

Recycling performance
In other specific recycling and waste minimisation sectors the 1999 survey of all UK local authorities by RECOUP, showed that 194 local authorities now operate a plastic bottle collection scheme (41% of LAs). The number of collection banks for plastic bottles has risen 12% in the last year to 3,757 on 2,600 sites and the number of households with a kerbside collection service including plastic bottles has risen 11% to 11,300 tonnes (over 225 million bottles).

the kerbside box recovered an average 3.5kg per household per year of plastic bottles, followed by supplied bags (2.7kg), and then wheeled bins (2.2kg). The kerbside box was also the most widely used kerbside collection container for schemes collecting plastic bottles with more than 1.3 million homes using one. The 1,100 litre wheeled bin remains the most widely used bring bank.

The survey indicated local authority plans for continued plastic bottle collection during 2000 and beyond. A plastic bottle collection level of approximately 13,100 tonnes is predicted for 2000 - 15,000 tonnes for 2001 and 16,500 for 2002.

For the first time the RECOUP survey asked the local authorities without a plastic bottle collection scheme the main reason who they were not operating one. More than half said that insufficient funds was the main reason, followed by 25% who are not confident of markets. Some 19% of local authorities without schemes are not convinced of the environmental benefits, 9% replied that they have insufficient information and only 2% said lack of public demand.

Tyre recycling
Business adviser Ernst & Young has been appointed by Waste Tyre Solutions Ltd (WTS), the used tyre recovery and recycling service, to audit v.Prompt, a voluntary scheme which aims to provide evidence that waste tyres have been reused and recycled in an environmentally preferable and sustainable way.

The scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, will be regulated by the Tyre Industry Council (TIC) under its Responsible Recycler Charter. As members of the v.Prompt scheme, waste tyre reprocessors must produce evidence that all WTS collected tyres have been recovered via an approved recycling process. Evidence of compliance will be in the form of Tyre Recovery Notes (TRN).


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