Olympics delivery project ‘hindered’ scope for reuse

London 2012 organisers have missed a significant reuse opportunity according to sustainability experts involved in the Olympic Park construction programme.

A lack of specific reuse targets meant that contractors were not incentivised to reclaim certain materials such as brick and steel from the demolition process, which could have been reused in site construction works.

Speaking at Ecobuild earlier this week (March 20), Noah Bold, sustainability manager at CLM – one of the delivery partners for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) – said that 215 buildings needed to be demolished on the site including warehouses and gasworks before construction work could begin.

While the demolition plan set a contractual target for 90% of material by weight to be reused or recycled, separate reclamation and reuse targets were not set for potentially valuable materials like Victorian bricks.

“Old Victorian bricks carry a resale value of £1 each, but only cost around 10 pence to clean up. There is a big recovery value there,” Bold told delegates.

According to Jonathan Essex, sustainable construction manager at Bioregional – one of the advisors during the process – over a third of the 3.6 million bricks identified on the site could have been feasibly reclaimed, but in the end only 0.4 million were.

“Because there was no separate reuse target set in the contract, there was no financial incentive for contractors to reclaim them,” he said.

Other barriers to maximising demolition recovery levels were time constraints, a lack of storage, and the fact that local reclamation and reuse merchants could not cope with the volumes coming off the site.

Essex added that there was a pressure on contractors during the demolition phase to focus on recycling rather than reuse, and that the waste hierarchy could have better applied.

On the day the Team GB kit is unveiled, the news will come as a blow to the ODA which is committed to tackling waste at all stages of the programme.

Maxine Perella

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