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C&D in Wales: New policy strong on reuse, weak on salvage yards

Posted on | By Thornton Kay
Glamorgan, UK - The Welsh government has published a new policy document for construction and demolition <i>Towards Zero Waste One Wales: One Planet</i> which is strong on recommending reuse, but does not seem to have consulted the Welsh salvage trade.

The report was produced by 'Constructing Excellence in Wales' which promotes excellence in the built environment through collaborative working, and is signed off by John Griffiths, minister for environment and sustainable development, All stakeholders were supposed to have been consulted during the production of the report but it seems that no salvage dealer was involved. Nor was Salvo which has undertaken the only significant surveys of the UK and Welsh architectural salvage and reclaimed building material sector in 1998, 2007 (BigREc Surveys) and 2012 (MiniRec Survey).

On the upstream supply side, the consultation section to the main report contained comments and replies from the Welsh government which stated 'The targets proposed by Welsh Government are based on those set by the EU in the revised Waste Framework Directive. We recognise that there is already a significant amount of recycling and reuse activity within the C&D sector however; this is largely around aggregates and soils, both of which contribute relatively little to the ecological footprint. The Welsh Government has identified priority materials for this sector, which when removed from the waste stream will make a significant improvement to the ecological footprint of Wales. Therefore this will encourage all those within the C&D sector, to concentrate their efforts on reducing the disposal of these priority materials wherever practicable. The Welsh Government funds a number of service provider bodies, all of whom provide guidance and support to businesses throughout Wales.' Some funding seems to be aimed at third sector social enterprise start-ups but none appears to be available to the well-established commercial architectural salvage and reclaimed building material sector which has been doing sterling work for decades with no help, encouragement or subsidy, despite the difficulties it has faced in its supply chain caused by government policies to encourage recycling rather than reuse. These have resulted in reusable wood, for example, which used to be salvaged and reused now being burned in waste to energy plants.

On the downstream market and sales aspect the consultation sets out plans to 'ensure public and corporate procurement includes the integration of environmental and resource efficiency criteria in calls for tenders and contracts'. One dealer we spoke to explained that they already supplied local authorities with heavy landscape reclaimed building material, and he felt that more could be done.

But the Welsh government does seem to know what it does not know: 'The Welsh Government recognises there are gaps in our knowledge regarding the size of the problem of legacy construction wastes. Through this sector plan and the Collection, Infrastructure and Markets (CIM) Sector Plan, the Welsh Government will seek to address these evidence gaps and encourage the development of innovative solutions.'

There are 41 architectural salvage and reclaimed building materials businesses currently listed by Salvo in Wales (November 2012). Another 100 or so sole-traders run materials from demolition and refurbishment to salvage yards or sell them directly via SalvoWEB or eBay. The reclaimed materials supplied by demolition contractors, although reducing in quantity, still represent around a third to a half of the total supply of reclaimed material (1998, 2007). A high percentage of customers (90 per cent in BigREc Surveys 1998 and 2007) are private consumers. The per capita figure for the volume of architectural salvage and reclaimed building material saved for reuse gives around 100,000 - 150,000 tonnes a year in Wales ranging from low embodied energy heavy reclaimed walling, kerb and flagstone to very high embodied energy reusable glass and aluminium products. The overall potential which could be saved if reuse was maximised is probably around 1m - 1.5m tonnes annually.

Salvo has spoken to several dealers in Wales today, none of whom were consulted during the formation of this policy, but all of whom would be prepared to attend a round table meeting with the team responsible for it. To this end Salvo will be writing to Mr. Griffiths requesting a meeting in Cardiff between the trade and the policymakers where the views of the building materials salvage sector may be aired.
Welsh Government: C&D Plan Towards Zero Waste One Wales: One Planet - November 2012 [820KB pdf

Story Type: News