Client's guide to cutting waste from construction projects

Reuse and recycle construction materials


By using more recycled and reused materials on your construction project, you can reduce your overall costs. There are two sources of potential cost savings - reusing construction, demolition and excavation materials, and importing recovered and recycled materials.

You should ask your design team to investigate these opportunities at an early design stage. This allows questions to be addressed such as:

  • What are the top actions to reuse materials on site and import recovered materials?
  • Is space available for materials storage and processing, and what will happen to volumes of waste materials which cannot be reused?
  • Will the materials be available in sufficient quantities?
  • Will the benefits outweigh the costs? For example, site reuse of aggregates avoids the cost of importing new material, but this must exceed the cost of hiring processing equipment.

The most common applications of reused and recycled products are:

  • reusing excavation materials - for example, by stabilising soils using hydraulic binders, or manufacturing quality soils by adding 'green' compost
  • processing demolition arisings on site - for example, using mobile crushing plant to provide recycled aggregates for fill, capping and sub-base layers
  • importing recycled aggregates that meet the same quality standards as the primary aggregates they replace
  • improving engineering properties of materials - for example, by using bonding composites to rehabilitate existing structures
  • using products with a high recycled content, such as recycled asphalt or cement replacement in concrete products

Reusing materials in smaller construction projects

Space, time and equipment can restrict opportunities to reuse materials on smaller projects. However, opportunities still exist to import materials from other sites, which may only be available in limited quantities and therefore better suited to small projects - see how to cut waste from smaller projects.