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What are Recycled Construction Materials

What are Recycled Construction Materials

Recycled construction materials form part of the construction waste management stream. It is an essential part of sustainable and eco-friendly waste management and construction. 

Recycled construction materials come in a large variety of forms. They’ve become increasingly popular as humans seek to find more greener building materials. 

But their popularity does come with a degree of challenges. Unlike traditional construction materials, such as steel, timber, and cement, these new composite materials still face the test of time. 

It’s also important to remember that natural resources are finite. Extracting new materials for building components contributes significantly to carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. A great way to reduce our carbon footprint is through recycled building materials.

Understanding their benefits and challenges will help you make more informed decisions about when and how to use them. 

What are Recycled Construction Materials?

Recycled construction materials refer to any materials used in the construction process that have been recycled instead of being disposed of. 

They come in a variety of forms, from organic materials like packed mud bricks made from excavation waste to chipped wood tables made from reclaimed wood. 

Their benefits derive from those of other recycled materials. The purpose of recycling is to minimise the total amount of waste that ends their life in landfills and dump sites. Giving materials a ‘new life’ helps to lessen this. 

It also helps lower costs across the supply chain. 

So, using recycled construction materials is a win-win. Not only does it save costs, but it helps the environment in the process!

Examples of Recycled Construction Materials

An exhaustive list of recycled construction materials is impossible to put together. But here are some of the more popular ones.

  • Reclaimed wood
  • Reclaimed steel
  • Wood cutoffs
  • Precast Concrete slabs
  • Ferrock
  • Recycled Plastic bricks
  • Recycled glass
  • Recycled concrete
  • Reclaimed sand and dirt
  • Bamboo
  • Glass panels
  • Synthetic gypsum board
  • Wooden pallets
  • Untreated timber
  • Enviroboards
  • Cardboard
  • Reclaimed building materials

Basically, anything that can be safely recycled and used in the building process is recycled construction material. 

General Recycled Materials 

There is a reason why recycled materials are favoured in the construction and manufacturing industry. It has to do with their unique ability to reduce the effects of climate change, lower costs, preserve resources, and encourage innovation and creativity. 

General recycled materials constitute a major part of all industrial activities. This is because many industries and business owners have seen the benefit of giving new life to products instead of throwing them away. 

While disposal for some products is inevitable – think, for instance, of hazardous waste – throwing everything away is not ideal. All this does is overburden landfills and require new products to be made. 

By recycling, companies find innovative ways to decrease the amount of that needs to be manufactured and the amount that needs to be thrown away.

In short, recycling is about being more efficient throughout the production and distribution process. It’s also cost-effective and great for the environment. 

Recycled Construction Materials in Australia

Construction is a major industry in Australia. It is important for it to play its part in building a greener and more sustainable future. 

Many construction companies have adopted recycling best practices in their building and manufacturing processes. This is the small part that they can play in building a better tomorrow (if you can excuse the pun!)

But this does not end with just using recycled materials. Many companies can help to promote recycling within their businesses’ waste management streams. 

This includes using recycled plastics and other eco-friendly products in their daily operations. Using green building materials should be one part of an overarching approach to sustainability.

Benefits of Recycled Construction Materials

Using recycled building materials has major benefits for the construction industry. Not only does it help to promote environmental sustainability, but it’s also cost-effective.

Creativity and Recycling efforts

A bonus of using recycled building materials is that it helps to promote innovation and creativity amongst your workforce. Let’s look at an example to explore this further.

Say you would like to reduce your carbon footprint by recycling building materials. How you use these materials effectively is up to your builders and constructors.

Recycled plastic, for instance, can be repurposed into bricks, wood, or other materials. Really, any reclaimed materials can be used in alternate ways.

By promoting innovation, your workforce will be more inclined to hard work. They’ll also have a greater deal of pride in what they do if they think that they are changing the world.

The Cost Benefit of Recycled Construction Materials

The environmental benefits of recycling building materials are one, but the cost benefits should not be ignored.

Affordable housing is a major crisis across the globe. Part of this is due to the high cost of virgin materials needed in new construction projects.

Recycling can help to mitigate these costs. Building materials for the construction industry can be taken from pre-existing, but no longer needed, materials. Some of them might even already be on the construction site!

Less Production Waste

Quite simply, less materials produced equals less waste. By using recycled building materials, a company is producing less waste.

But this is more than the visible waste on the site.

The electricity required to produce brand-new bricks, for instance, can require a connection to coal-fired power plants. These are bad for the planet and highlight that environmental considerations should go beyond the construction site.

Recycling lessens the building materials that end up in the waste stream. But they also contribute significantly to overall reduction along various supply chains.

Recycled Building Materials vs Recycled Construction Materials

Recycled building materials differ slightly from construction materials. Building materials refer to items that help to create the built environment of a site or project. Think kitchen countertops and other furniture.

Construction materials refer to the larger items that make up the building, like steel, glass, and cement.

Both can (and should) be recycled due to the various benefits mentioned above.

Ultimately, if we are to build a greener and more eco-friendly planet, we might as well live in houses made with recycled materials.