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A Guide to Recycling Construction Materials

1. Overview

Today, 400 million tonnes of resources are needed to supply the UK’s construction industry.

old bricksOne third of the UK’s total waste is generated by the builders industry – nearly 100 million tonnes of waste. A quarter of it will end up in a landfill where it can be recycled or reused. Without proper handling at the site, hazardous materials could leak and cause both water and soil contamination. Reducing the accumulated waste is vital since it will save resources and raw materials, as well as minimise the impact on the environment. Therefore, if you’re about to have renovation work performed on your property, make a waste management plan first.

How to Recycle Construction Materials

The process of recycling begins away from the recycling centres. Without the proper separation of the materials, it would be nearly impossible to get them recycled. That’s why you’re crucial to the process. Here’s how to recycle construction materials:

  1. Try to reuse as much of the leftover materials as possible. The more of the materials you manage to salvage and reuse, the less you have to separate and bring to the recycling centre.
  2. Separate the materials. The material separation will be a crucial, albeit boring component, integral to the whole process. The reason for this is that despite the fact many recycling facilities tend to accept all sorts of materials, some are specialised and won’t take everything (but even if they’re not, it’s still a good idea to have them sorted).
  3. Donate as much as you can. The thing about construction materials is that some of it can be donated, even if you are not able to reuse it. There are charities that would gladly accept useable materials.
  4. Contact your closest recycling centre. In order to find out what types of materials your nearest recycling centre accepts, you’ll have to contact them. This way you will be able to figure the logistics out. You can try to use your interpersonal skills in order to extract this information or you can go online.
  5. Check if different types of materials have certain guidelines about recycling. On our site, you will find more guides, including paper, plastic, metals, glass, and more. Check them out of you’re not sure how to proceed with certain materials.
  6. Ensure collection or bring them to your recycling centre. Some of the materials can be deposited in a recycling bank or left in the kerbside box, but others you will have to bring to the centre yourself. Alternatively, you can use a rubbish collection service and save yourself the trouble.

2. How Is It Recycled?

Many valuable materials end up in a landfill. Most can still be reused in some way. Below you’ll find the most common building materials and their uses after the recycling process:

  • Glass – used for different purposes including the manufacture of concrete and insulation;
  • Wood – mainly recycled for the creation of energy;
  • Bricks, concrete and stones – the materials are crushed and used to produce new asphalt and concrete;
  • Metal – recycling metal is much more energy efficient than creating new metal from raw materials;

Recycling waste building materials minimises the cost of construction projects, decreases the amount of waste sent to landfills, and also helps the environment.

3. Did You Know?

  • More than 2 million tonnes of cement is produced.
  • Approximately 3 tonnes of concrete is used per person, per year, worldwide.
  • Only water is used more than concrete.
  • Due to its thermal qualities, wood is nearly 14 times more efficient that concrete as an insulator.

4. Environmental Impact

High proportions of resources such as materials, money, and energy are needed to meet the demands of today’s construction industry. This increasing demand will eventually result in the loss of biodiversity and increased environmental damage. Learn more about this issue by taking a look at the five stage life-cycle of building materials below:

  1. Extraction stage
  2. Manufacturing stage
  3. Construction stage
  4. Applying stage
  5. Destruction stage

The first two stages are supposed to have the largest environmental impact of all five. However, the destruction stage is now associated with an increase in waste disposal problems. Traditionally, when people are starting a new renovation project they don’t think about the waste the process will inevitably produce. Take a step towards sustaining the environment by making a responsible plan before you start.

5. FAQs

 Q: What kind of building materials can I recycle?

A: Almost any, including carpets, metals, wood, insulation, concrete, tile, plastic, and rock.


Q: I am planning a renovation project. How can I minimise the construction waste?

A: You can try working closely with your contractor. Take notes on how much waste your project is accumulating, and once it’s finished you can calculate the cost of waste collection. Make different disposal piles for both inert and non-inert materials, and give your contractor instructions regarding the removal and separation of waste. Keep in mind you can always call Rubbish Please to come and collect your construction waste.


 Q: How can construction companies improve their work in order to reduce waste?

A: They should be more efficient in the design process and implement a more advanced technology which will cut down the amount of waste. In addition, raw materials should be used more effectively in order to minimise the environmental impact.

One Response to A Guide to Recycling Construction Materials

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