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Cutting plastic waste and achieving sustainability targets within construction

Over the past 12 months there’s been growing pressure to address waste issues that are posing a threat to our environment, both here in the UK and globally. Plastic specifically has been targeted as a real cause for concern and many industries have started to evaluate and reduce their use of non-recyclable plastics.

The construction industry in particular has been proactive in setting targets for the reduction of plastic waste. It is believed that in the region of 23% of the plastics produced are consumed by the construction industry. 

Each year the UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic, so with the construction industry accounting for just under a quarter of that, it comes in as the second largest consumer of plastic in the UK.

There is a concept that’s growing in popularity known as ‘circular economy’, which aims to maximise total material resource efficiency. It goes further than the 3 R’s of reduce, reuse and recycle, covering the use of sustainable materials in developing new buildings, both in the building itself and the items used during delivery of the construction.

Choosing sustainable partners and methods

There are two main forms of plastic waste; single use plastics including items such as food containers, plastic spoons etc. and then those created by construction practices, which are much harder to reduce. An example of this is seen on most construction projects that require a form of hoarding or drywalling, in order to create temporary site rooms, welfare spaces and partitions.

With plasterboard being another form of construction waste that contractors are looking to reduce, reusable and recyclable materials are required, and this is where Hoardfast can help.

Westgate’s market leading PVC Hoardfast product is manufactured from up to 85% recycled plastic, and panels are reusable across multiple projects or phased project work within the construction and fit out sector. These products can also be supplied on a hire agreement, meaning they are sent back at the end of the project, creating no waste for the contractor. These panels are then cleaned, graded, restocked and rehired multiple times.

Once panels and components reach the end of their usable life cycle, the product is 100% recyclable. These recycled plastics are then used to manufacture new panels amongst other plastic items. 

Funds generated from the sale of these plastics are donated by Westgate to support the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) as well as other UK charities.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) works to protect the UK’s seas, shores and wildlife. Their work gives the public a voice to enable them to challenge governments and organisations who can make a difference to the way our oceans are treated.

The future of sustainability in construction

As the UK government sets new waste targets, and with the possibility of banning plastics being sent to landfills, adopting circular economy and green construction methods within the construction industry will undoubtedly become more apparent.

Of course, plastic will still have its place in construction. It’s a useful material afterall. But there are ways to source plastics that are sustainable and become part of the solution rather than the problem. Construction companies will want to partner with suppliers that understand and adapt their methods to meet those of their customers, which is why Westgate have launched and continue to develop their sustainable practices. Learn more about Westgate’s circular economy initiative with Hoardfast PVC.

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