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Construction, demolition and excavation waste report

Mineral products sector evidences the high use of construction waste for recycling and quarry restoration

THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) has published a new report on the use of construction, demolition and excavation waste (CDEW) produced by the construction industry in the UK.

The Construction Sector Deal indicates that around 120 million tonnes of CDEW waste is generated by construction activity every year. The new MPA report uses Defra data to demonstrate that 76% of all CDEW is currently being recycled or recovered back into the ‘chain of utility’ by the minerals and waste-management industries.

The report highlights that 90% of all hard construction and demolition waste (C&D) is recycled in aggregates markets, whilst 57% of soft excavation waste (EW) is used beneficially, mainly in backfilling operations to recycle and restore land, which often follows the end of mineral extraction and allows MPA members to deliver valuable new habitats and contribute towards national biodiversity targets.

Excluding navigational dredging spoil and hazardous waste, the MPA analysis shows that only 26 million tonnes of the total waste stream generated by the construction sector is actually sent for disposal. The report also examines some of the factors that limit or constrain the ability for more CDEW to be reused, focusing on the soft, excavation waste.

The key findings of the report are: 

  • Overall recycling rate of CDEW – excluding navigational dredging spoil and hazardous waste, 76% of all CDEW is currently recycled or recovered.
  • Reuse rate of C&D – 90% of hard C&D waste is currently recycled or recovered.
  • Reuse rate of EW – 57% of soft EW is recycled or recovered.
  • Total CDEW sent for disposal – 26 million tonnes of the remaining CDEW is sent for disposal.
  • Greater understanding of the CDEW stream required – To better understand the recycling and recovery rates, particularly of EW, data recording and reporting must be made more robust and consistent.

Announcing the publication of the report, MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson said: ‘The need for resources and waste materials to be used more efficiently and effectively has never been so strong. The mineral products sector plays an important role in contributing towards the circular economy – whether recycling concrete and brick to be reused in construction or making use of soft excavation waste to restore old mineral sites and, in turn, recycle land.

‘However, the absence of robust data relating to the generation of waste products and their subsequent use back into the ‘chain of utility’ must not be used to overshadow the performance of UK industry in recycling and recovery of waste resources. We need to understand what additional actions are needed to further reduce the 26 million tonnes of CDEW produced by the construction industry that are actually being disposed of.’

A copy of the report can be downloaded below.

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