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Recycling Developments

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Recycling & Waste

WRAP aims for a step change in the right direction

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has announced a programme of work that will facilitate growth in the availability of quality recycled and secondary aggregates. Funded through the aggregates tax sustainability fund, the work aims to reduce demand for primary aggregates through the use of aggregates from more sustainable resources. The fund also channels revenues from the aggregates tax back to communities affected by aggregates extraction.

There is little doubt that the construction industry is already doing its bit when it comes to recycled and secondary aggregates. The use of such materials is well established and contributes approximately 18% of the supply of construction aggregates used in England. Data for 1999 show that 11% of the supply is derived from recycled construction and demolition (C&D) wastes, and other data suggest that a further 7% of aggregates arise from other sources such as asphalt planings, pulverized fuel ash and metallurgical slags. It is reasonable to assume that the data on aggregates from C&D waste in 2001, collected by Symonds for the Office of Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and due to be released in the next few months, will show an increased contribution from this resource.

This usage highlights the fact that there are few differences in the performance of aggregates from primary or recycled and secondary resources. However, recycled and secondary resources offer an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of construction projects, by both recycling any C&D waste generated and through the use of materials diverted from landfill.

This increase in usage has been supported by changes to standards and specifications. For example, in May 2001 the Highways Agency issued modifications to the Specification for Highway Works, based on the work carried out for European aggregate standards, permitting the use of recycled and secondary materials as aggregates for most construction applications. Equally, many local authorities now include the use of recycled and secondary aggregates within their annual tenders in accordance with Local Agenda 21 policies.

National targets for the use of recycled aggregates are set out in Minerals Planning Guidance Note 6, published in April 1994, and will increase in the current review. The target for 2001 was 40 million tonnes and it is estimated that this figure was exceeded. The present target for 2006 is 55 million tonnes.

Under its Aggregates Programme, WRAP will concentrate on capital support, standards, knowledge and information, while the Department of Trade and Industry’s CIRM (Construction, Innovation and Research Management) initiative will deliver the research programme. This will include evaluation of non-aggregate materials which could be used as alternatives to virgin aggregates.

A further increase in the use of recycled and secondary resources is partly dependant on the availability of economically viable resources in significant and consistent quantities. WRAP is facilitating a growth in the availability of aggregates from recycled and secondary resources by means of two capital grant competitions under its Aggregates Programme to help improve England’s infrastructure for reprocessing construction and demolition waste and other materials.

Although 20 million tonnes a year of recycled aggregates are already resourced from the 70 million tonnes of C&D waste generated annually in England, this waste stream still remains the largest potential source of recycled aggregates.

With high contamination levels and low landfill costs being the main barriers to recycling, one of the WRAP capital grant competitions focuses on projects which can deliver effective segregation systems and consistent supply of quality recycled aggregate to meet end-market requirements.

The second competition focuses on the creation of infrastructure for reprocessing secondary materials such as china clay waste, used foundry sand, or slags, and encourages innovation in other alternative materials. It also includes recycling processes for concrete, brick and asphalt which facilitate their use in higher-value applications.

WRAP has set a target to increase the production of recycled and secondary aggregates by 2 million tonnes a year by 2004. Capital funding is a key element of WRAP’s Aggregates Programme and these competitions aim to increase reprocessing capacity in order to deliver this 2 million tonne goal. It is anticipated that several projects from each competition will be supported to allow WRAP to achieve this ambitious target.

Another focus of WRAP’s work will be the development of a single-point source of information and knowledge on recycled aggregates. Due to be launched later this year, this web-based information service and helpline will be designed to reach a broad audience of construction stakeholders, making available the currently dispersed knowledge concerning recycled and secondary aggregates through a single-point resource. It will provide industry professionals with the information they need to make informed decisions about using recycled and secondary aggregates.

‘Extensive consultation has highlighted that capital funding is needed to underpin the necessary step change in recycling levels if WRAP is to achieve its 2 million tonne target increase by 2004,’ says John Barritt, WRAP’s head of aggregates. ‘WRAP’s strategic aim is to increase the processing infrastructure necessary to produce quality recycled and secondary aggregates and to stimulate market demand.’

Electronic versions of the capital grant competition pre-qualification documents are available on the WRAP website at or can be obtained by writing to WRAP at: The Old Academy, 21 Horse Fair, Banbury, Oxon OX16 0AH.

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