Case Study: Reusing Building Materials

The Challenge:

Kier Construction has been charged with managing the remodelling and refit of UWE’s Bower Ashton campus in Bristol. Kier appointed LA Moor to strip out and demolish as required. UWE required a commitment to high reuse and recycling and whilst LA Moor hasvery high rates of recycling, Collecteco was approached to consult on any potentially reusable items on site.

Collecteco carried out an audit to identify reusables and these included carpet tiles, light fittings and sections of insulation board. There were a number of challenges with this site, including the presence of asbestos, that meant that reuse opportunities were not as abundant as with other sites. However, this project demonstrates that there is always a case for considering opportunities to reuse before recycling, energy recovery or landfill.

The Solution:

In order to maximise reuse, LA Moor’s team of staff carefully removed the carpet tiles and light fittings and stacked them neatly on pallets to minimise transport movements and related C02 emissions. There was no forklift on site, but by careful stacking, we were able to load using the tail-lift on the collection vehicle, which further reduced emissions associated with having to hire a forklift or Hiab truck. In order that the items were removed quickly from site to prevent deterioration or damage, Kier liaised closely with Collecteco so that we could send a collection vehicle as soon as the pallets were ready for collection.

Reuse is a case of supply and demand. Often reuse is not maximised because reusers run out of capacity or “fill-up” quickly. The Chrysalis has been designed with this in mind. It is a 20,000 square foot facility that has the capacity to accept high volumes of reusables and store these until such time as there is a demand for them.

In the case of the carpet tiles and the light fittings, The Chrysalis holds “stock” for a number of charity shops. This is donated free of charge to help them refit their premises and recently we havedonated carpet tiles and light fittings to Mercy in Action in Bath and a new Salvation Army shop in Bristol. Otherwise, we have a continuous stream of enquiries from charities, schools and SMEs that are starting-upor refitting premises, so these will be used to help them furnish to a good standard and reduce their costs, which is important in the current economic environment. We will report back on the exact destination of these items when they are rehomed.

Whilst light fittings are quite straightforward to recycle under the WEEE regulations, carpet tile recycling infrastructure in the UK, especially for smaller amounts, is underdeveloped. Had the carpet tiles not been reused, they would probably have ended up in a landfill. Insulated metal panels are also difficult to recycle, as, whilst the metal can be stripped off, the insulation board is again usually destined for landfill.

Collecteco cleared four metal insulation panel off-cuts from the site. These panels were also donated to The Chrysalis and will be used either in their current state or the metal removed so that the board can be cut to size more easily for use as a highly efficient insulation material. Surprisingly there is a lot of demand for metal insulation panels like these and The Chrysalis recently rehomed 80 x 8 metre by1.2 metre sections to a local commercial landlord that uses them to divide old warehouses to give low-cost premises for SMEs. There is also great interest in insulation and other building materials from the ever-growing self-build community that is very active in Bristol and across the country.

The Results:

+ Landfill Diverted: 800kg
+ C02 Reduction: Transport reduced by careful stacking and local reuse
+ Reuse vs. buying new items made from virgin resources
+ Jobs/Training created & supported: collection/warehousing/cleaning/delivery
+ Support of local good causes
+ Cheaper to reuse than to skip tiles