Ensuring that we practice Waste Management & Recycling
A couple of decades ago, there was no such thing as widespread recycling in the UK however now, all councils have an obligation to have a recycling waste collection service and recycling centres at public waste disposal sites.
Before recycling became common practice, resources were constantly being wasted in production of new materials, not to mention the environmental impact of recyclable waste being sent to landfill. In 2003 the Household Waste Recycling Act meant that householders had to become pro-active and take responsibility for the sustainable disposal of their rubbish. Last year, around 10 million tonnes of household waste was recycled, representing around 44.9% of all UK refuse.
Although recycling involves the tedious task of separating products into their different types and the hassle of having multiple bins in the home, the environmental impact cannot be denied. Recycling products uses less energy than making products from new materials - in the case of recycled steel for example, the energy saving is 75% over making steel from raw materials. Currently in the UK, it is estimated that recycling saves over 18 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually as well as cutting the amount of waste sent to landfill which in turn reduces the amount of harmful greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
As well as recycling household waste, products from demolition of buildings can be recycled and reused. Bricks and blocks can be reclaimed and used for new building projects, thus reducing the environmental impact of new build properties. Even damaged bricks can be recycled for use as aggregate for general fill and in landscaping. Demolition or property remodelling projects can be carefully carried out in order to maximise the amount of materials that can be reclaimed and reused. Currently, a third of UK waste is from construction materials, representing 18% of carbon dioxide emissions. This figure can be cut by recycling. There can also be a profit in the sale of such materials to reclamation yards and specialist companies.
Property developers can reduce their carbon footprint when constructing new homes by recyling unused or damaged building materials. Many types of materials are suitable for recycling including glass, wall and floor coverings, plasterboard, plastics, tiles and wood. These materials can either be used in other projects in their original state or can be adapted and turned into other products such as animal bedding, containers, polypropylene beads and road cones.
Designers and builders can also incorporate recycled materials into new build properties in order to further reduce their carbon footprint. Reclaimed wood can be used to make window frames, slates can be used for roofing and even old staircases can be incorporated into new buildings. At the moment, only 1% of reclaimed materials are being recycled into new building projects in this way, but there is a drive to increase this figure and make buildings more sustainable.