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The benefits of using recycled materials

28 October 2019

The use of recycled materials has grown in popularity over the last few years as more people and industries are becoming aware of the big impact they can have on the environment.

In particular, construction and demolition (C&D) waste accounts for 42% of the material that ends up in landfill. C&D waste is a broad term that refers to a diverse range of materials, yet when these products are separated they can become valuable resources for other construction projects and industries.

By using parts of an existing building for new construction and development we can reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill. This not only helps lessen the environmental impact of the building sector in Australia, but in many cases can effectively reduce construction costs.

By making use of recycled C&D materials you are:

  • Reducing the need to source new materials
  • Reducing hauling and disposal costs
  • Sending less materials into landfills
  • Using less energy, which can lead to better air quality as you’re decreasing harmful emissions 
  • Benefiting your bottom line by spending less of the budget on new materials for construction
  • Ultimately, using recycled materials in a construction can reduce the environmental impact by almost half — a significant result!

Commonly recycled materials

Common C&D materials that are often discarded include concrete, bricks, metal, wood, cardboard, and asphalt material. However, these are all valuable products that can be recycled into a new commodity or re-used in their current form.

Those working in the C&D industry should be encouraged not to consider the disposal of materials as part of the cost of doing business. Recycling and re-using these products can bring economic benefits to a business, as well as having an enormous impact on the environment.

In addition, a commitment to recycling a fixed percentage of your waste materials for each construction can set you apart from competitors—great for marketing!

Recycle and re-use options for C&D materials

There’s lots of uses for C&D waste, for example untreated wood can be used as wood chips for the landscape gardening business, ground down and turned into engineered board or used as mulch.

Concrete is commonly being used in place of crushed stone and as a substitute for virgin crushed rock in all-weather applications, such as roads and pavements.

While there is less market demand for timber in comparison with other C&D waste materials, the reuse of high-grade hardwood timber is popular. Also, infrastructure timbers — such as railway sleepers, utility poles and bridge timbers — are seeing strong demand from landscape gardening businesses.

Keeping valuable C&D materials out of landfills is an important step in protecting the environment. Making the recycling of C&D waste part of your business plan can help save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage more businesses to follow suit.

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