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    Recycling Buildings: 10 Building Materials That Can Be Reused After Demolition

    Recycling Buildings: 10 Building Materials That Can Be Reused After Demolition

    Construction and demolition waste are one of the heaviest and most
    voluminous waste streams generated in the EU accounting for approximately 25%-30% of
    all waste generated.

    Demolition recycling is an important step in a building’s life cycle, as
    material reclamation and good recycling practices can divert over 90% of
    the building’s material from the landfill. RubberBond have been
    investigating what materials can be recycled and what they can be turned into.

    Concrete, Bricks & Blocks

    Research indicates that the average wastage level of concrete is about
    4%, while brick and block is around 6%.

    Method

    Concrete and brick can be recycled by crushing them into rubble.

    Repurpose

    Once sorted, screened and contaminants are removed, reclaimed concrete
    or brick can be used in concrete aggregate, fill, road base, or riprap.

    Gypsum

    Stat

    The landfilling of gypsum and other wastes with a high sulphate content
    together with biodegradable waste has been banned in England and Wales since
    July 2005. This is to prevent the build-up of hydrogen sulphide gas which is
    both toxic and odorous.

    Method

    Gypsum is relatively easy to recycle. Contaminants need to be removed,
    such as screws and nails, and separate the paper.

    Repurpose

    It can be ground into a powder or turned into pellets. The resulting
    material is sold to manufacturers that use gypsum for different applications.

    Wood

    Stat

    Wood waste from all sorts of building sites – including new builds and
    refurbishments – amounts to around 0.85mt per year.

    Method

    Wood can be reused, repurposed, recycled, or burned as bioenergy.

    Repurpose

    Wood can be used in pathways, coverings, mulches, compost, animal
    bedding, or particleboard.

    Glass

    Stat

    The UK manufactures 750,000 tonnes of flat glass each year, three-quarters
    of which goes into glazing products for buildings. Currently, the recycled
    content of flat glass produced in the UK is between 20%–30%.

    Method

    There are various methods of recycling glass in order to make it fit for
    repurposing such as crushing, screening to remove contamination, air
    classification, optical sorting, size classification and washing and drying.

    Repurpose

    Glass can be used for pretty much anything including decorative
    materials, fluxing agent in the manufacture of bricks and ceramics, insulation,
    containers and even sports turf applications.

    Metals

    Stat

    Britain exports 15 million tonnes of industrial waste each
    year, half of which is valuable scrap metal

    Method

    Metals are collected, sorted and then shredded. The scrap is then melted
    and purified and finally allowed to cool to solidify.

    Repurpose

    Metals—including steel, copper, and brass—are valuable commodities to
    recycle. Like glass, they can be repurposed into a vast array of items such as
    appliances, furnishings, fixtures and lighting.

    Aggregates

    Stat

    Approximately 275 million tonnes of aggregates are used each year in the
    UK as raw construction materials, but a lot of it goes to landfill.

    More than half (54%) of waste recorded as ‘Recycling and other recovery’
    is ‘Mineral wastes’, while a further 12% is soils.

    Method

    Concrete aggregate collected
    from demolition sites is put through a crushing machine.
    Crushing facilities accept only uncontaminated concrete, which must
    be free of trash, wood, paper and other such materials.

    Repurpose

    Aggregate can be reused as a base material under foundations, roads and
    railroads.

    Plasterboard

    Stat

    Up to 1.3 million tonnes of plasterboard waste is generated within the
    new-build construction and refurbishment sectors each year.

    Method

    Composting.

    Repurpose

    Standard plasterboard, which hasn’t been contaminated by paint or
    similar, can be added to an aerobic composting system and is likely to have a
    neutral or beneficial effect when added to the soil, especially clay soil.

    Plastics

    Stat

    According to National Geographic and the National Geographic Society,
    91% of plastic isn’t recycled.

    Method

    All plasterboard recycling goes through a thorough process
    which takes away all of the added material which is left on the plasterboard
    when it’s removed from the wall or ceiling.

    Repurpose

    In construction, plastics are generally used for pipework, interior
    fittings, window frames, scaffolding boards and kerbstones. These can be
    repurposed into packaging, textile fibre and clothing, street furniture to name
    only a few.

    Floor & Wall Coverings

    Stat

    Almost 600,000 tonnes of flooring is disposed of each year, of which
    less than 2% is recycled. A small quantity is incinerated but the vast
    majority, over 90%, goes to landfill.

    Method

    Fibresolve – subjecting wood fibre to a vacuum and pressurised steam
    with mechanical agitation at a high temperature.

    Microrelease – using microwaves to reclaim wood fibres from the resin.

    Thermohydraulic processes – separating the adhesive from the wood
    fibres.

    Repurpose

    There tends to be a lot of wastage when it comes to floor and wall
    coverings due to over ordering, pairing this with the fact that a lot of it can
    also be recycled afterwards, materials such as ceramic and terrazzo tiles,
    wallpaper, carpet, carpet tiles, vinyl and linoleum and laminate flooring can
    be repurposed into many things including road cone manufacturing and animal
    bedding material.

    Insulation

    Stat

    In just 23 housing projects in the UK, the average amount of insulation
    wasted was 1.0m3 per 100m2 floor area.

    Method

    Insulation can be recycled by returning materials through take-back
    schemes offered by manufacturers, but reclamation and reprocessing can only
    happen after removing impurities such as nails and screws.

    Repurpose

    Similarly, materials involved in insulation such as glass and stone
    wool, polystyrene, sheep’s wool, spray foam, polyurethane and fibreboard can be
    transformed into concrete blocks, fibreglass board and fibreglass ceiling
    tiles.

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