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Last edited 20 Mar 2019
Improving construction and demolition waste data
Specialists in construction and demolition (C&D) waste at BRE, undertook a study to assess the shape of information regarding C&D waste in the UK. This is part of the work the BRE Trust is doing to help 'building a better world together'.
 A study of UK construction and demolition waste data
However, a recent report by the RWM Ambassadors highlighted the significant gaps and weaknesses in C&D waste data. The BRE study is intended to improve the C&D waste data used by DEFRA to report against EU targets.
However, this does not include recycled aggregate or soils produced and dealt with on site (known as ‘under an exemption’). This is estimated from the Minerals Products Association (MPA) data from 2008 which is adjusted annually based on construction industry value. This review aimed to supplement this useful information with additional, more recent data.
The table below shows various sources of information – highlighting the benefits and issues associated with each.
|Mineral Products Association||Estimate of amount of recycled aggregate from C&D activities||45.3 million tonnes of recycled aggregate produced in 2012 in UK. Estimated that 38.9 million tonnes for England||Ongoing data so would allow for comparison with previous years||Based on data from 2008 and updated based on construction output Source of information used to estimate construction output no clear|
|UEPG (European Aggregates Associate)||Estimate of amount of recycled aggregate produced||44 Million tonnes of recycled aggregate produced in UK in 2012||Not additional data as based on MPA data|
|National Federation of Demolition Contractors||Estimate of percentage of inert demolition waste that is reused or recycled onsite||54.4% of inert demolition waste produced is reused or recycled onsite in UK||Produced annually Based on member information||For demolition only Breakdown for England not currently available|
|SmartWaste (related to aggregates)||Estimate of the percentage of inert CD&E waste that is reused or recycled onsite||32.5% of inert CD&E waste is reused or recycled onsite||Data limited to users of SmartWaste Some companies who use SmartWaste do not record onsite reuse of materials|
|SmartWaste (related to soils)||Estimate of the % of soil produced that is reused or recycled onsite||50.8% of soils produced are reused or recycled onsite||Some companies do not record onsite reuse of materials|
As with home recycling, when mixed waste goes through a sorting facility, many different types of waste from different sources are combined. Once this mixed waste is sorted, it is not known how much of the segregated materials come from each source.
In the construction industry, knowing the proportions and quantities of individual materials in mixed waste can help both individual companies and the sector as a whole to identify issues and set targets.
Various data sources were reviewed around this issue, showing a significant difference in the breakdowns produced from each.
In particular, the WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme) data suggests there are very low proportions of metal, timber, plastic and glass; whereas company specific data (from a review of a variety of organisations’ CSR reporting) indicates much higher proportions of these materials.
 September RWM discussion panel
The main points from this session were that:
- The construction sector is quite good at collecting data but that more use could be made of it to effect real change on construction and demolition sites.
- Ongoing discussions with various (construction professionals, waste management professionals and government agencies), should continue to ensure progress is made in collecting reliable, useful data.
- Ongoing analysis of SmartWaste data could help provide information for the industry, helping set targets for waste reduction and improved materials management.
 How can this situation be improved?
Data from NFDC and SmartWaste could be used alongside MPA information to allow improved estimates of internally recycled materials – resulting in a better understanding of how these materials are managed, enabling government and key construction stakeholders to develop and improve on this.
The data contained within SmartWaste could be used alongside more information from individual companies to provide an estimate of material breakdowns – this will help construction companies identify materials to target for waste reduction.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- BRE Buzz articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- BRE SMARTWaste John Muir release.
- Circular economy.
- Design for deconstruction – helping construction unlock the benefits of the circular economy.
- How data can stop waste.
- Landfill tax.
- Recyclable construction materials.
- Site Waste Management Plan.
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