Recycling is a resource recovery practice that refers to the collection and reuse of waste materials. The materials from which the items are made can be reprocessed into new products. Material for recycling may be collected separately from general waste using dedicated bins and collection vehicles, or sorted directly from mixed waste streams. Known as kerb-side recycling, it requires the owner of the waste to separate it into various different bins (typically wheelie bins) prior to its collection.
Recycling can encourage better segregation of waste to enable higher recycling rates and improved quality of recyclate and encourage use of recycled materials and products as replacements for virgin materials, where viable.
Specific targets for the construction and demolition sector have been set out in Towards Zero Waste.
Targets in the revised Waste Framework Directive
The Waste Framework Directive sets a target that by 2020, preparation for reuse, recycling and other material recovery, including backfilling operations using waste to substitute other materials, of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste excluding naturally occurring material defined in category 17 05 04 in the list of waste shall be increased to a minimum of 70% by weight. In order to achieve the overall targets in Towards Zero Waste, the more easily recyclable materials need to be recycled at a higher rate. These indicative recycling rates for the priority materials in the scope of this plan are shown in table 10.
Targets in EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC amended)
The EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste set minimum recovery targets (60%) and recycling targets (55%) for packaging waste, to be met by 31 December 2008. The Directive also established material specific recycling targets for glass (60%), paper and board (60%), metals (50%), plastics (22.5%) and wood (15%). Post 2008, Member States must continue to meet these minimum targets.
The UK has chosen to set higher targets via the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2010.
Twelve EU regions are to join forces to develop a common framework in a bid to improve the consistency of recycling and recovery rates across Europe.
The partnership project ‘Regions 4 Recycling’ (R4R) will run over three years and will formulate a methodology for waste data observation, selective collection and recycling rates that will enable participating regions to share best practice to improve their recycling performance.
The development follows a European Commission report released earlier this month which highlighted vast differences in recycling rates between EU member states, ranging from less than 10% to more than 70%.
However the scope for recycling building elements and materials in existing buildings is often limited by technical constraints imposed by the construction of the building itself. In order to maximise the potential for recycling in buildings in the future, buildings should be designed to facilitate the reuse and recycling of building elements and components.
But should all elements of a building be designed to enable dismantling and reusing or recycling? Should all buildings be constructed for recycling? Or should certain building elements or building types be designed for maximum durability?
We find that services are often removed due to their technological obsolescence and could therefore not be reused, but should be dismantled and the materials recycled. Designing for recycling would therefore seem essential for building elements that have a shorter life than the rest of the building. This would apply to services, but also most finishes in buildings.
Although there are large resources of useful minerals in Wales, it is important to ensure that they are not wasted and that they are used efficiently and for the purpose(s) specified in the planning permission although flexibility may be necessary in some circumstances. In some exceptional cases, planning permission may have been granted because of UK or regional need for the mineral in areas which would not normally be suitable for mineral extraction because of environmental or policy objections. If this is the case, it is essential that the mineral is not exploited for a lower grade purpose than that originally intended.
Local government has a vital role to play in building sustainable communities and renewing deprived neighbourhoods. This can be achieved through resourceful and innovative procurement and working with a diverse range of suppliers.
A realistic minimum commitment for contractors is to ensure a minimum of 15% of the total construction material value should be derived from reused and recycled materials in new build projects. On infrastructure projects, values in excess of 50% may be achievable without increasing the cost of materials. WRAP’s Construction Procurement Guidance provides necessary guidance and maximizing recycling.
Setting a requirement for recycled content sets requirements for minimum levels of reused and recycled content in projects is commercially sensible and achievable at no extra cost.
Delivering higher recycled content in construction projects shows that requiring projects to exceed a minimum level of recycled content is commercially sensible and achievable at no additional cost.
Recycled content procurement guidance is an interactive flowchart explaining the process for procuring materials with increased recycled content.
The RAMS project is looking at how this material could be used more effectively. The project aimed to produce a Technical Specification for adoption in Wales to:
• Maximise the use of lower utility recycled aggregates in low grade engineering pavements e.g. footpaths and car parks,
• Reduce engineers risk through the production of a nationally recognised specification for inclusion of such aggregates in low grade, low risk schemes,
• Make recycled aggregate the aggregate of choice,
• Reduce landfill by 500,000 tonnes per year in Wales
Construction waste recycling is the separation and recycling of recoverable waste materials generated during construction. 8,000 lbs of waste are typically thrown into the landfill during the construction of a 2,000 square foot home.
Most construction waste goes into landfills, increasing the burden on landfill loading and operation. Waste from sources such as solvents or chemically treated wood can result in soil and water pollution.
Some materials can be recycled directly into the same product for re-use. Others can be reconstituted into other usable products. Unfortunately, recycling that requires reprocessing is not usually economically feasible unless a facility using recycled resources is located near the material source. Many construction waste materials that are still usable can be donated to non-profit organizations. This keeps the material out of the landfill and provides a positive outcome.
An important step for recycling of construction waste is on-site separation. Initially, this will be a time consuming process but once separation skills are established, on-site separation can be done at no or minimum cost.
The initial step in a construction waste reduction strategy is good planning. Design should be based on standard sizes and materials should be ordered accurately. Additionally, using high quality materials such as engineered products reduces rejects. This approach can reduce the amount of material needing to be recycled and bolster profitability and economy for the builder and customer.