How reclamation can help new builds

All industries are coming under increasing pressure to operate in a more sustainable way, and none more so than the construction industry. One of the best ways to do this is by using reclaimed materials that have previously been used in building projects and giving them a fresh purpose. These materials can be resized, adapted and refinished but stay in their original form as recycled materials.

Recycled materials could include things like bricks, ceramic tiles, roofing, metal fixtures, stones and timber. You can also re-purpose an original item, for example using an old roof beam for a new mantelpiece.

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The construction industry is one of the most important areas in which recycling and sustainability can make a real difference. It creates a massive impact on the environment with annual figures at around 6 tonnes per person in the UK. It also accounts for 18% of carbon emissions and approximately one third of all UK waste. The use of reclaimed materials can significantly reduce the massive impacts on the environment.

Reclaimed materials can be sourced from demolition sites or during the course of a re-modelling project. It’s important that the materials are taken down and dismantled in such a way as to preserve their integrity, so they can be sold and recycled. This is the opposite of construction and as such, is known as deconstruction.

These materials can also be found at reclamation yards, salvage premises and other specialist businesses who salvage and sell on. For a Reclamation Yard Ireland, visit

There is much work to be done, however, in spreading the word about the benefits of using reclaimed materials. Currently, only 1% of materials used in new building projects comes from reclaimed items. Barriers to the use of reclaimed goods include the cost of storing and transporting materials between sites, salvage companies supply chains being unable to handle large orders and the restricted use of some reclaimed materials.

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Sustainable development can only truly take place when the material of demolished buildings can be kept out of the waste cycle and re-used in other projects close by. There is massive potential to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill by re-using it instead. When materials from a previous site are used in a new project, there is virtually no impact on the environment and a much smaller carbon footprint, even if the materials are transported from a distance.

Roger Walker

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