News: UK - research shows reclamation of building materials has fallen due to lack of government support
Sustainable construction experts have published new research showing that the amount of building material being reclaimed has declined and that reclamation is in fact becoming more difficult in the UK.
Wednesday, 2nd December 2009
Government actions are shown to be hindering reclamation, contradicting the government's own policy which gives reclamation a high priority in waste management. The authors recommend that a government reuse champion be appointed to scale up reclamation and its benefits, which range from reduced carbon emissions to more green jobs. "Pushing reuse" was compiled by environment charity BioRegional and reclaimed building materials experts, Salvo. The organisations undertook the research project to uncover the reasons behind the recent decline in reclamation and they compare this to recycling within the sector which, with major government support, has grown massively despite being less beneficial environmentally. Jonathan Essex, Reclaimed Materials Manager at BioRegional said: "Pushing reuse clearly shows the benefits that reuse brings over recycling. For example, if we reclaimed 50% of reusable iron and steel the carbon savings would be equivalent to taking 29,000 cars off the road - and that's for just two materials. Yes, reclamation is currently more labour intensive than recycling which makes it more expensive, but it creates green jobs and products that often have a higher value than recycled - for instance reclaimed bricks are worth much more than bricks recycled into aggregate". The report makes 5 main recommendations to policy makers: Create a reuse champion To direct investment in new capacity and R&D to make material reclamation quicker, safer and cheaper; provide easy-to-understand publicly available data on the embodied carbon consequences of materials choices; and work across government to promote the following policy recommendations: Invest in kick-starting reuse capacity One of the main barriers to the reclamation of construction products in the UK is the lack of storage and reprocessing capacity. The government should match its capital investment in recycling with a commitment to provide the land and broker the partnerships to establish facilities that can store and reprocess reclaimed materials. Direct local government and planning to reuse - Local government planning guidance should support reuse through relevant Planning Policy Statements. - A new National Indicator as part of Local Area Agreements should be created; requiring that local government monitors, reports and sets targets for reusing business and particularly construction waste in its local areas. - Local authorities should require or provide temporary holding facilities for reclaimed products, pending their subsequent use. Put materials in the EU Emissions trading scheme The Government should explore the possibility of making construction materials tradable, so that the reclamation and reuse industries could be incentivised. For example, the UK reclaimed brick sector should be recompensed at the rate of £10/tCO2 saved which would have allowed around £15m to have been reinvested in the sector between 1998 and 2007. Direct landfill revenues to reuse before recycling The UK government pays WRAP for each tonne of waste diverted from landfill. For example, had it recompensed the UK reclaimed brick sector in this way the sector would have received government support, which could have been invested in new technologies to increase reclamation. Reuse is the new recycling. The government can and should create a new reuse agenda.