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


  • 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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