Using Reclaimed and Recycled Building Materials

Over the years recycling has become a hot topic in Parliament. The European Union currently has a target to cut domestic carbon emissions by DA (in comparison to levels recorded in 1990) by 2020; however, if the EU expects to meet the targets set forth by the Climate Change Act 2008, realistically a 25% reduction should be achieved. It's a long and tricky road, but studies conducted by the European Commission show that the plan is both technically and economically feasible. The one undeniable truth is that everybody needs to take part:

How can I start contributing?

The opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint spans a broad spectrum. For example, seemingly small decisions, such as using eco-friendly light bulbs and cleaning products, can make a huge difference. Solar panels and gray water storage tanks are now a common sight, and while they certainly help, they're not a replacement for using environmentally unsanitary materials in the construction process.

As a society reducing our environmental impact tends to be geared towards the sustainability of the materials, but how they have been extracted in the past and what they'll become in the future is of equal importance. In many countries, over 60% of non-industrial solid waste is generated through construction, renovation and demolition. Used wisely—through recycling and reclaiming —this phenomenal figure could turn into a massive resource.

What is recycling and reclaiming in construction?

Scavenging building materials and reusing them is known as reclaiming. This minimizes carbon emissions through extraction, processing and transportation. In addition, it reduces waste gases through decomposition. Some building materials which can be reclaimed could even be valuable, such as marble, certain hardwoods and antique fixtures.

The primary difference between recycling and reclaiming is that recycled materials are reprocessed to make something new, rather than simply reused in their existing form. Most standardized building materials can be recycled. For example, drywall is often made using highly compressed paper; insulation can be created using recycled cotton; and plastics, metals and glass can be created using recycled waste. Materials that have been recycled are often labeled with a percentage which states how much recovered material was used in its production.

What materials am I allowed to use?

Contrary to popular belief building codes are actually quite lax. Providing the necessary planning and preparation is in place — and that the design matches the aesthetic nature of the immediate area — there's not much you can't use. In recent years the eco-lifestyle has been gaining more momentum, which has been prompting more and more people to experiment with unconventional environmentally friendly designs. For example, in France, there's a growing trend of building walls with old car tires filled with sand.

Using recycled and reclaimed building materials isn't just a luxury that can help reduce costs and carbon emissions; it will play a big part in determining whether European Commission targets will be met. Failure to take the necessary actions could be detrimental to both our health and economy in the not-so-distant future. It's imperative that we act now.

Contact a company like Brisbane Scrap Metal Recycling PTY LTD for more information and assistance.