Reuse Industry Overlooked While Recycling Blossoms

reuse of building materials photo

Image credit: Salvo

As every good TreeHugger knows, Reuse comes before Recycle. Yet sadly, even as recycling has blossomed in the UK, numbers for reuse of building materials are in decline. Could government support help turn that around? A new report, Pushing Reuse, from The Bioregional Development Group—the same people who brought us ReIY building reuse centers—and Salvo—the industry group for architectural and construction reclamation—is arguing that reuse has traditionally been overlooked by policy makers, even though it often offers much greater environmental benefits than it's better recognized cousin, recycling.

Jonathan Essex, Reclaimed Materials Manager at BioRegional said: "Pushing reuse clearly shows the benefits that reuse brings over recycling. For example, if we reclaimed 50% of reusable iron and steel the carbon savings would be equivalent to taking 29,000 cars off the road - and that's for just two materials. Yes, reclamation is currently more labour intensive than recycling which makes it more expensive, but it creates green jobs and products that often have a higher value than recycled - for instance reclaimed bricks are worth much more than bricks recycled into aggregate".

Among the report's recommendations are that the Government needs to appoint a reuse champion, it needs to kick start reuse capacity by investment of land and capital, as it has with recycling, and it needs to offer similar incentives to those offered the recycling industry in the form of payments for materials diverted from landfill.

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