ZWS launches initiative to reduce construction waste

Bricks and wood waste at a construction site
In Scotland, the construction sector is the largest contributor of waste to landfill
A new initiative has been set up by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) to tackle the huge amounts of waste coming from the construction industry.

Across the UK, the construction and demolition (C&D) sector generates the largest amount of waste. In 2016, according to the most recent government statistics, 61 per cent of the UK’s waste was generated from construction, demolition and excavation, compared to 19 per cent from commercial and industry (C&I) sources and 12 per cent from households.

In Scotland, the construction sector is the largest contributor of waste to landfill, making up one third of all landfilled waste, with much of this taking the form of soils, stone, bricks and rubble. The sector is also the largest consumer of raw materials, meaning that it is the least resource efficient of all industries, with more materials being used and disposed of than are being reused and recycled in new projects.

Read more: Construction waste – Out of site, out of mind?

Now, a new initiative has been launched to help the sector develop innovative ways of reducing its waste. Resource efficiency organisation Zero Waste Scotland has teamed up for the project with Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), which provides funding and support for innovative Scottish businesses. The two organisations have previously worked together on the Deconstruction Hub, a project to promote collaboration and circular solutions in the C&D sector.

The partnership will see a programme of activities set up, including:

  • A series of joint events to promote innovative ‘reuse, recycling and circular thinking’ initiatives within construction;
  • Issuing ‘innovation calls’ to generate innovation projects around waste reduction and reuse themes; and
  • Collaborating on further sector-wide strategic projects.

ZWS will also be working within CSIC’s Innovation Factory – a facility where construction businesses can meet and collaborate – to drive engagement with businesses and promote their events.

Stephen Good, Chief Executive at CSIC, explained: “Reducing construction waste and encouraging circular economy approaches should be a priority for everyone in the sector, and there’s no doubt that it is increasingly becoming a driver for businesses. CSIC has already funded numerous projects in these areas, including reusing waste tyres in acoustic barriers and producing bricks made from construction waste.”

Iain Gulland, ZWS Chief Executive, commented: "This partnership is a sign of our ambition to change the way we design and build in Scotland. The construction sector faces major challenges in reducing its waste but there are equally big opportunities for businesses to reduce costs and create new revenue streams in Scotland’s emerging circular economy.

“Achieving that will require new ways of thinking and working together to maximise our impact. By partnering with the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, we can combine an ambitious agenda for change with the practical and financial support that is required to help businesses make it happen.”

ZWS has previous experience working with the construction industry, publishing a guide for construction and architecture businesses to help them keep materials in use for longer. The reuse guide came alongside a support service, launched in 2017 for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to cut down on their waste arisings and save money at the same time.

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