Recycling in Construction

We have recently discussed the subject of waste and recycling. When discussing it, we also explained a particularly useful tactic to battle waste, the RRR acronym. RRR stands for Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and is an acronym widely used by anti-waste campaigns. Let us have a look at the examples of materials used on construction sites with the potential to be reduced, reused and/or recycled in line with the above.

Examples of materials often found on construction sites are; glass, timber, metal, plasterboard, plastic, paper, rubber, concrete and more. All of those materials have the potential to either be reduced, reused and/or recycled in one way or another. When it comes to the reduction of use, steel has been mentioned particularly often by the experts. It is regarded as a durable and strong material with the potential to be used in smaller quantities while still meeting the construction standards. Modular building frames are made of steel therefore the construction of our buildings is considered light and strong. Steel can be joined by bolting or welding and can also be reused. As material steel is considered good to recycle. A fair proportion of steel used in the construction industry currently is being recycled. Recycling of steel can also be improved even more.  

There are many ways to reuse other construction industry materials as well. One of the most versatile is wood which can be reused in a number of ways. From simply reusing wood within the elements of a construction project, through using it as a decorative element in the house to using it as part of landscaping in various forms or, depending on the quality, as firewood. The better the wood quality the more options we have. Depending on the condition and previous use we might be forced to use it for something specific.  For instance, a lower quality wood will only be able to be used as firewood.

Another material good to be recycled is glass. When recycled, glass does not lose its quality and therefore is considered a high-quality recyclable material. We can’t say the same about paper as recycled paper loses on quality. Recycling paper is still highly useful as through recycling we are lowering amounts of new materials used, plus, the variety of papers is needed for different industries.

Bricks are something to reuse in construction industry too. If in good condition, bricks can often be reused again in a traditional way or alternatively can be crushed into brick chips and reused this way, as part of landscape material for instance. Plasterboard is a 100% recyclable material. It can be reprocessed and reused again. Crushed concrete can also be reused, as an aggregate for instance. Rubber can be recycled or it can also be reused as a DIY material. It is worth remembering that if we do not personally want to reuse some of the materials in a particular way, we can always find someone who will.

Out of a long list, plastic is probably one of the most problematic materials to be reused. There are many trying to find ideas and solutions to the plastic problem. One of the plastic biggest issues is the fact that there are so many different kinds of it, that not all can be recycled in the same way, therefore, trying to reduce its use is probably our best option. We can reuse what is possible, recycle as much as possible and keep looking for experts’ advice on alternative solutions.

Christmas is behind us now and New Year has already started. In 2020 we can respond in a positive way by implementing the tactic of three R’s and not only in the construction industry. New Year gives us the opportunity to reflect and to undertake steps towards a future of reduced waste.

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