Not-for-Profit organisation BioRegional estimates that the scale of the construction industry is such that it activities account for one fifth of the nation’s carbon footprint. It creates 93 million tonnes of waste per year with up to 13% of all new building product never being used and ending up in landfill.
Two primary sources of re-usable building material exist; namely that derived from the excess stock from new build projects and that available from demolition activity. The diversion of these materials from the waste stream and encouragement for their re- application would reduce both the carbon footprint and waste disposal costs of the industry.
One of the main barriers to greater reuse is the lack of a substantial materials exchange system. Existing reclamation yards tend to concentrate on higher value architectural salvage whilst builders with excess stock at the end of a project have no obvious options for its resale. Recently introduced regulation – the Site Waste Management Plan (effective from October 2007) – will force greater segregation and control of waste on larger construction sites.
BioRegional therefore consider that the time is ripe to encourage the greater reuse of building materials by supporting the establishment of reclamation centres across the country; these would be based on the characteristics of a chain of such units already operating in the US.
Aims & Approach
The aim of the project was to establish the feasibility of the operation of building material reuse centres (BMRCs) within the UK.by the creation of a ‘tool-kit’ report comprising an example business plan and helpful details on how they can be run.
BioRegional built on previous activity in this area and worked in cooperation with WasteWISE Consultants Ltd and the Minchinhampton Architectural Salvage Company (MASCo) to carry out this study.
The resultant report and fully costed business plan is intended to serve as a template for replication and to thereby encourage the establishment of such centres.
Details for the plan were based on information gleaned from an analysis of the operation of similar centres already in existence in the US. Branded as ‘Restore Centres’ and working to the ‘Habitat for Humanity’ model, they provide retail outlets for building materials which have typically been salvaged from demolition activity or as excess stock from new building projects.Outcomes
A final draft business plan was delivered in hard paper and CD format. It is based on a hypothetical site extending to 1,000 square metres situated outside of the South East of the country modelling a business to retail situation.
The feasibility for BMRCs in terms of operational aspects, financial viability, training and community development aspects has been borne out in the report. In particular, an investigation of the use of reclaimed materials within the building industry and the initial claim that there is potential for 100+ centres across the UK has been borne out. BioRegional offer case studies (in the report appendix) and a list of (about 60) parties interested in setting up BMRCs as evidence of this.
A strategy is outlined for the development of projects (through the use of time lines and milestones), exploring the effect of current legislatory and policy drivers with an analysis of projected capital and running costs.
Support for BREW metrics has been clarified in the Financial and Environmental section of the report.
Lewis Herbert of WasteWISE, commented that the joint project “has already had early successes with funded BMRC project development under way in the North East, the East and South West of England, recognising the need to supplement the UK toolkit with detailed regional market research.”
Thanks to their experience in this field and commitment to continue the encouragement of the reclamation of building materials BioRegional are well placed to maximise the impact of this report and example business plan. It may well be that the best course of action for the CRR in this case is for the continuation of support to their activity.
Ronan Leyden of BioRegional commented “Our expert team has produced this toolkit so that social enterprises, local authorities, and building companies can pick it up and run with it. By setting up a BMRC, building and supplies companies will save money from waste disposal costs and training opportunities will be created. There are also great Corporate Social Responsibility opportunities. There’s no reason why these centres can’t be just as successful as their North American counterparts.
To further support BMRCs both BioRegional and WasteWISE are working to establish a national support network to assist individual BMRCs to start up, access funding and share learning with others.
In a detail divergence from the initial intention to make it available freely on their website, BioRegional have adopted a preferred strategy of making it available by application so that interested parties can be tracked and a tactical initial approach can be employed to maximise impact.
Access to the finalised report and business plan has been enabled through the BioRegional reclaimed website