Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Uses of construction waste

Sheffield, Yorkshire UK




90 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste is produced annually, of which 13 million tonnes are materials that were delivered but never used. The construction industry creates 3 times the waste of all UK households combined - 25% of all waste produced in the UK. After excavation and demolition waste, the majority of construction waste is made up of plasterboard, cardboard and timber.

Fortunately financial implications of waste have become an issue impossible to ignore by contractors and builders, with landfill costs set to treble over the next three years. More changes are set to occur with loads containing over 10% plasterboard waste now have to be landfilled separately at increased cost. In addition it is likely that in April 2008 construction projects with a value of over £250,000 will be required to produce a site waste management plan (SWMP) outlining their measures to minimise waste and increase reuse and recycling. This has lead to an number of reuse initiatives throughout the country, helping builders and other business find positive solutions to their new found responsibilities.

One such initiative, Why Waste, run by the Bradford Environmental Action Trust, offers a free Yorkshire and Humberside wide online waste exchange. This matches business with waste with those that can make use of it. the scheme has been running since March 2007 and already has 2500 registered users, all saving money on their waste disposal bills and diverting valuable materials from landfill.

To raise awareness for their scheme, Why Waste commissioned postgraduate architecture students from the University of Sheffield to design and build a striking, demountable pavilion to be erected in the centre of Sheffield and to be made from waste derived from the waste exchange. Finding and using reclaimed and recycled materials from the waste exchange set an interesting challenge for the young trainee architects, as form most definitely followed available material with interesting results.

The frames were made of short lengths of 100x 50mm reclaimed timber. These were screwed together to make 150 x 150mm posts and 150 x 150mm posts and 150 x 50mm beams. Two of the walls were made from the waste 'skeleton' sheets of birch plywood and acrylic, left over from the manufacture of children's furniture, while the others were made from bailed blocks of polythene waste and colourful polypropylene banding previously used for strapping the cardboard around flatpack furniture. The roof was made from 900 faulty carpet tiles, which were otherwise destined to be dumped. Even the buildings display boards and lighting was recycled, with chandeliers made from cylindrical perspex offcuts from a shop-display.

Dan McTiernan, Why Waste's coordinator on the build, said "We're extremely proud of this project and of its award nomination. Space of Waste clearly demonstrates that something beautiful can be made from what most of us perceive as rubbish. We hope that this will make other people aware that materials, otherwise destined for landfill, can be used to construct buildings which are low in cost and environmental impact, and high in aesthetic appeal."

Sarah Hunt, one of the architecture students involved in the project, commented that: "The construction industry is one of the UK's most wasteful. By taking an unconventional approach to the design process, we were forced to rethink the way in which materials can be used. Architects and designers have the potential to divert a lot of waste from landfill and create building and objects that are both beautiful and original." [info taken from green building magazine]

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