Saturday, November 25, 2006

Salvo Reclamation Protocol 1995

London UK - This was written by me and put on SalvoWEB in 1995 but was deleted a few years ago, so I am putting it on my blog in its original form. First called the 'Salvo Recycling Protocol' it was quickly renamed the 'Salvo Reclamation Protocol' when the term 'recycling' started to be used for destruction rather than reuse.
©SALVO 1995. REFERENCE & INFORMATION. Students & Journalists are free to use the contents PROVIDED we are sent a copy and Salvo is credited in the publication.

The Salvo Recycling Protocol
We are often asked some pretty basic questions about reclamation and recycling by people in all walks of life. Students, Researchers, Television and Press Journalists, Home Interest Magazines, Conservationists, Environmentalists, Local Government Officers, MPs, and even the DoE and European Commission. So it seemed like a good idea to have a look at the theory, and how it is practised.

The answer to the simple question, "Why should we reclaim old building materials?" is not so simple. It pre-supposes that we don't, or that we aren't as much as we should. Third world countries are still efficient recyclers, as Britain was up to 1950. Since then the UK has trashed ever-increasing amounts of reusable construction materials. The building boom of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s came after a Government White Paper - the 1948 Parker Morris report - recommended minimum standards to which every human in post-war Britain was entitled. These referred to daylight and ventilation, an indoor toilet, a kitchen with a ventilated pantry, and freedom from damp buildings. Buildings which failed to provide these standards were declared slums. The report stated that, although one solution would be wholesale slum clearance, this would be socially destructive. The Macmillan government simply ignored the social destruction and proceeded to 'clear slums' at a cost to the social fabric of Britain which is still reverberating through the poor areas of towns and inner cities, and the high-rise housing estates that were constructed to replace 'slums' many of which are now being demolished.

Why reclaim demolished building materials? Answer:
1. It can save energy
2. It can save mineral resources
3. It can save forests
4. It can save architectural history
5. It can provide employment
6. It can reduce construction costs

What is the Salvo Recycling Protocol?
We have adapted the sensible provisos of the Rio Accord under Agenda 21 as follows, in order of merit:

1. Reuse without demolition.
The greenest and most energy efficient solution is to reuse a whole building with the minimum of alteration. It may be justifiable to uprate the insulation standard, but only if the energy saved during the remainder of the building's life is greater than the energy cost of the insulation uprating.

2. Reclamation of components.
The term 'Reclamation' was first used in this context by T Kay of Salvo in 1977. The term 'Architectural Reclamation' was first used by T Kay in 1991.
Reclamation should save as large a set of chunks as possible. The best method is to relocate an entire building, locally or further afield if necessary. If the building has a historical value, it would be better to relocate it abroad, intact, than to dismantle it and sell off bits to many buyers locally. If relocation is not an option then whole components should, firstly, be reused in the new building to be erected on the site, or secondly, sold to buyers in the local area, and thirdly, sold elsewhere. Where possible large items like windows should be kept in sets with their masonry surrounds. If a market does not exist for such large items then they should be broken down further and materials sold off individually. Architectural reclamation dealers exist who sell everything from entire dismantled buildings to individual bricks and floorboards.

3. Recycle and re-manufacture.
Components made from metal and plastic can be recycled by returning them to their constituent parts and reusing the resource to manufacture a new product. This has traditionally been done with scrap metals and, more recently, items like plastic motorway markers are being made from scrap plastic from buildings. The crushing of concrete for reuse as aggregate is acceptable but the crushing of old worked stone, or reclaimable bricks, to make recycled hardcore is not since the energy and resource losses are unacceptably high. It is easier to recycle components using highly capital intensive methods than to reuse and reclaim which involves human labour. The easiest route is usually the least environmentally-friendly.

4. Beneficially destruction with energy recovery.
The term 'Beneficial Destruction' was invented by T Kay of Salvo in 1992, although it has not been universally adopted.
If none of the above options are possible then carbon-based products can be burned in waste-to-energy plants creating useful heat for district heating or electricity generation. Wood can be put into engineered sealed landfill sites where methane is tapped for reuse, but not into open landfill since the methane generated during its decomposition is a greenhouse gas. A problem with 'beneficial destruction' is that once the capital is employed in building an expensive plant, the fuel must be found, and experience is now showing that such plants are seeking materials, that could be better reclaimed, for destruction in order to keep the plants operating. This does not bode well. Denmark is currently seeking reclaimable timber from Germany because it has run out of domestically available demolished material.

The recycling protocol above was effectively agreed to by the UK government, the EC, and in Agenda 21 - the 'Sustainability' clause - at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It has been signed to by 170 countries around the world.

Salvo recommend that all building or landscaping projects should include a minimum of 5 per cent to 10 per cent reclaimed materials. Currently the amount is less than 1 per cent. If you buy a new BMW 70 pert cent is recycled. If you buy a new building less than 1 per cent is reclaimed.

How much is tipped in the UK?

1994 DoE Guesstimate
'Managing Demolition and Construction Wastes' HMSO 1994. Consultant: Howard Humphries based on Ove Arup 1991.
TOTAL : 42m tonnes (in licensed landfill)

1991 DoE Guesstimate
'Occurence and Utilisation of Mineral and Construction Wastes' HMSO 1991. Consultant: Ove Arup. Based on 28 hrs research.
TOTAL : 70m tonnes (including fly-tipping)

1993 Salvo Guesstimate
Based on 20 years experience of the trade, hundreds of hours research in 1993, and verbally agreed to by a past president of the European Demolition Association & the UK National Federation of Demolition Contractors.
TOTAL : 100m tonnes (including all minor demolition, stripping out etc.) The comparable figure for Germany was 140m tonnes in 1993.

Table 1 - Breakdown of demolition and construction wastes in the UK based on ANNUAL DEMOLITION ARISINGS of 100 million tonnes = DAILY DEMOLITION ARISINGS of 418,000 tonnes.
Apologies if the old-style html table code does not render very prettily in modern blog css, but it was how the original looked in 1995

MaterialsPercentage of TotalTonnes Daily
Bricks8%33,500 tonnes a day = 10 million bricks per day
Concrete10%42,000 tonnes a day
Bituminous - mainly Road Planings5%21,000 tonnes a day
Soil, Stone & Clay44%183,500 tonnes a day
Sand & Gravel18%75,000 tonnes a day
Wood5%21,000 tonnes a day
Other10%42,000 tonnes a day
DAILY TOTAL100%418,000 tonnes a day
+++ Of the above DAILY TOTAL, 46% or 192,280 tonnes is claimed to be 'RECYCLED' by the UK DoE, mostly as Hardcore +++
+++ Daily RECLAIMABLE total & the amount RECLAIMED +++
Bricks5 million a day170,000 a day
Stone15,000 tonnes a day1,000 tonnes a day
Softwood5,000 tonnes a day200 tonnes a day
Tropical Hardwood500 tonnes a day20 tonnes a day
Pre 1910 Architectural Features5,000 tonnes a day 200 tonnes a day
Post 1910 Architectural Features15,000 tonnes a day 100 tonnes a day
TOTAL58,000 tonnes a day 2000 tonnes a day
Employment in the Architectural Salvage industry is around 20,000 people. If materials reused were to increase from less than 1% of all construction materials to 10% then an extra 180,000 jobs would be created.
The total volume of Reclaimable Materials of 58,000 tonnes = 1,500 lorryloads + 3,000 skipfuls.
The total amount RECLAIMED is less than 5% of the total amount RECLAIMABLE, and most of this comes from buildings which pre-date 1920.
+++ Daily RECYCLABLE total & the amount RECYCLED (DoE 1993) +++
Masonry & Concrete200,000 tonnes a day100,000 tonnes a day as low-grade fill, 10,000 tonnes as recycled aggregate
Other17,000 tonnes a day10,000 tonnes a day
MaterialsAmount AvailableAmount Used
Wood, Bituminous & Plastics31,000 tonnes a day1,500 tonnes (in cement kilns?)
+++ This leaves 14,000 tonnes a day Unavoidable Tipped +++

What this means is a massive loss of resources, energy and employment. UK Government policy is woefully adrift of anything meaningful in this area, possibly through ignorance of and bad advice from so-called professionals of the real issues.

BRICKS - Energy Values

It takes 4kwH of energy to make a Handmade or Wirecut Brick and 1.6kwH to make a machine-made Fletton (ignoring embodied energy within the clay).

Each year 3.5 billion new bricks are manufactured in Britain É. and 2.5 billion reclaimable bricks are landfilled.

Around 40m bricks are reclaimed for reuse as bricks. The energy cost of reclaiming them is about 9 wH of human work per reclaimed brick (= 0.009 kwH which represents a total of 135 full-time jobs cleaning bricks each year, and potentially 6,750 if all landfilled bricks were reclaimed.)

Around 100m bricks are crushed each year. The energy cost of crushing is 2 wH of fuel per crushed brick plus the loss of the embodied energy of up to 4 kwH per brick = 4.002 kwH. (This represents about 12 full time jobs, assuming 1 person attending the crusher, and 625 jobs if all landfilled bricks were recycled.)

Reclaiming old bricks is 400 times more energy efficient, and creates 11 times the employment, than Recycling them.

It takes about 1.5 kwH per mile per tonne to move goods by road. A reclaimed Fletton can be moved 320 mls and a Wirecut 800 mls before the energy cost of a new brick or a recycled brick is reached. But new bricks are always moved around 50 - 100 mls, so 400mls and 900 mls may be more realistic figures. The best reclaimed brick is one reclaimed and then reused on the site from which it was demolished.


A landfilled brick costs between 1 - 2 pounds per tonne to dispose of, or about 0.3p - 0.6p per brick. A few sites allow free tipping of unmixed 'clean' hardcore. Around London some sites will even pay for hardcore in winter.

A crushed brick will sell as secondary aggregate for around 3.50 - 6.50 pounds per tonne or roughly 1p - 2p per brick.
Reclaimed Machine Made Flettons sell for 15p - 20p. Very few are sold, probably less than a million.
Reclaimed Wirecut Bricks sell for between 20p - 35p. Thinner bricks are more expensive.
Reclaimed Handmade Bricks sell for between 30p - 50p.Thinner bricks are in short supply.

On one site alone in Bristol in 1994 about 7 million 1906 Cattybrook Three Inch Wirecut Bricks were disposed of as landfill for lack of a buying market. Multiply this by 350 and you get 2.5 billion trashed bricks in the UK.

The cost of reclaiming a brick on site is between 15p - 18p but if it is moved off site haulage, storage and marketing costs must be met. Demolition contractors are offered small sums for many old bricks by reclamation dealers which encourages trashing.


There is no such thing as a 'free' market in reclaimed materials. It is affected by a raft of regulations among which are:

1. Pressure from 'engineered' landfill site operators for clean fill.
2. Greater H&SE regulation requiring stricter controls over hand labour on demolition sites, which encourages bigger machinery.
3. Planning procedures and public opinion encourage rapid demolition. Vandalism and theft occur as a result of buildings being left empty for years.
4. Some authorities refuse to allow the use of reclaimed material.
5. Professional indemnity insurers exclude non British Standard materials from indemnity cover.
6. The establishment of reclamation businesses is discouraged in the UK by conservation minded planners.
7. The new controlled waste regulations encourage fly-tipping.
8. The EC Construction Products Directive bans the sale of reclaimed materials.
9. The new UK landfill tax are encouraging more fly-tipping but are not encouraging reclamation. One 1995 report from the construction industry said that fly-tipping around London had reached epidemic proportions since the introduction of Landfill Taxes.


Plans are at an advanced stage for a new target driven EC directive for recycling demolition waste that will not follow the EC Recycling Protocol but will give any of the four recycling methods equal merit. The drafting committee is being led by Germany and Denmark. German federal recycling laws require that all demolition waste is separated and recycled. Specially licensed demolition contractors are paid additional money for recycling costs. But bricks are crushed and no reclamation takes place. Fly-tipping, illegal burning and the illegal export of demolition waste to neighbouring countries is common.

We suspect that commercial and political pressures will mean that the UK will acquiesce to a Directive that will damage UK reclamation and encourage recycling. A target-driven directive will result in more capital intensive recycling, and less employment extensive reclamation.

This was torpedoed by Salvo, who threatened to take the EU to the European Court if a Directive was recommended because the ad-hoc committee did not contain, nor consult, any European reclamation business. Carl Heinz Zachmann, then head of DG12 anbd chair of the 200 strong committee was not impressed and contacted me by phone in Ireland, to no avail. That directive, the proposed EU Demolition Waste Streams Directive was quietly shelved.


Two types of toxicity can be found in reclaimed materials: EMBODIED and ACQUIRED toxicity.

EMBODIED toxicity : the material itself is toxic eg asbestos, some hardwoods, metals, and stone. Asphalt is considered toxic in Holland and PVC is considered toxic in Germany but neither are yet considered toxic in the UK.

ACQUIRED toxicity : contaminated material
1. By Treatment - such as old treated timber
2. By Association - such as woodblock set in asphalt
3. By Use - such as masonry from chemical works. (There are already stringent regulations governing demolition of materials from contaminated sites)

ISCOWA (Utrecht, Holland 1994) : reclaimed materials with hidden toxicity, either a currently known toxic risk or a possible future one, are better reused than buried in a landfill site or dispersed into the atmosphere via incineration.

Instrumentation will be developed, but criteria will constantly shift as safe materials are declared toxic.

Future Codes of Practice :
Salvo is trying to establish one for the Reclamation Industry. The DoE has recommended one for Recycled Aggregates.
The Salvo Code was formed later in 1995, after three year's of meetings and consultation with the UK trade


1. Assess value of reclaimable materials.

2. Check to see if reclaimed materials can be reused in the new project.

3. Ask for 2 prices -
a. Dismantling & Reclamation
b. Conventional Demolition to Landfill.
(and 2 Method Statements)

4. Get a Reclamation Contractor to tender alongside conventional demolition contractors.

5. Allow sufficient time in the contract for reclamation to take place.

6. For maximum benefit allow time for marketing whole components, even whole buildings.

7. Ensure that the building is secure, preferably occupied, and photograph all old items. Paint the underside of roof slates with scaffolding paint etc.


1. Reuse all items removed from building jobs within the job in question using Reclamation before Recycling protocol.

2. Allow space to separate waste. Keep it secure. If space is not available on site then consider renting land/covered space to store reusable materials.

3. Always source reclaimed materials before specifying them.

4. Always use reversible fixings like lime mortar, screws not glues, so that future reclamation is possible.

5. Don't contaminate new or reclaimed materials with toxic chemicals.

6. A high proportion of construction waste is caused by loss of new materials through carelessness, over-ordering, bad storage, inadequate supervision, non-returnable packaging. Write principles for good site practice into prelims etc.

©Thornton Kay Salvo March 1995, February 1996.
Created 8 April 1995, amended 18 February 1996.

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