Booming marvellous: the upside of demolition

February 23, 2017 / Isla MacFarlane
Booming marvellous: the upside of demolition

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, as the old adage goes. Demolition, though not as politically palatable as building, is an undersold link in the housebuilding supply chain.

While demolition contractors have an unfair reputation for doing a dirty job, their real value lies in cleaning up; demolition contractors recycle 96% of the waste they generate during deconstruction, according to the National Federation of Demolition Contractors. Housebuilders could take a leaf out of their book.

The legislative pressure is on for the construction industry to make less mess, with the government aiming for zero waste to landfill by 2020. The Environment Agency estimates that up to 20% of all construction materials end up in skips destined for landfill. These are materials that housebuilders can’t afford to waste.

The UK’s reserves of sand and gravel are depleting fast, and the ailing sterling is driving up the cost of imported materials. Far from obliterating precious resources, the demolition industry helps preserve valuable materials.

As the cost of construction is hoisted higher, a study from WRAP shows that construction companies could save 1% simply through waste reduction. Here are our top five ways to waste not, want not:

  1. Choose the right demolition contractor

A savvy demolition contractor won’t want to send one scrap to landfill; their goal will be to maximise the value of materials that can be reused. Demolition specialist Erith recycles 99% of all their demolition and removal; the remaining 1% is Asbestos. There can be significant profit in recycling when valuable materials sell at high prices, according to Reconomy. Even with fluctuating commodity prices, recycling and reusing materials will make all the difference to whether a construction project comes in on budget or not, particularly as margins are squeezed.

  1. Recycle

Up to 13% of the materials purchased for projects go unused and are discarded, according to Resource Efficient Scotland, when they would have had value on other project sites. Factor in material and labour costs and the true cost of waste is well in excess of £1,300/tonne. “Most recyclable material has a value if you can find the right buyer,” said Natasha France of Wooldridge Group. “Order only what you need to reduce waste – find suppliers that will do this for you.”

As a bonus, you’ll also be playing an important role in improving the quality and quantity of recycled materials available.

  1. Designing out construction waste

Zero Waste Scotland has made a case for how material waste can be prevented through design in construction and refurbishment projects. The organisation has developed the first online guide which explains how circular economy design ideas can be applied throughout the design and construction phases of any project. The guide will be launched at an event in Glasgow in March.

  1. Segregate your waste

Making segregation part of your waste management plan will deliver tangible financial results for your business, according to Reconomy. By segregating construction waste, you make it simpler to recycle larger amounts of waste materials. The less waste you send to landfill, the higher your profit margins will be.

“Organising and segregating waste into recyclable streams can create revenue back to the company,” said France. “Minimise hazardous products. Landfill Tax is expensive and increases annually.”

  1. Employ waste management experts

By calling in the experts, you can focus on your job. You won’t have to worry about waste management training on site; your workers can concentrate on what they do best; you’ll improve the efficiency of waste segregation; and avoid mistakes made through a lack of expertise, training or focus.

Housebuilders can’t afford to let inefficient waste management sully their profit margins. By letting someone else clear up the debris of the past, housebuilders can focus on building the homes of the future.

In March, Show House will be publishing its first ever Demolition and Waste Management supplement, which looks at the importance of these services to housebuilders.

The supplement will highlight the scale and importance of the sector to the housebuilding industry focusing on the key contractors; the latest news and views; and interviews with leading figures in the demolition world. The supplement will also talk to housebuilders about how the sector works for them and its value to their business as a vital link in the supply chain.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Snowmanradio via Wikimedia Commons

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