The concept of a Circular Economy aims to maximise total material resource efficiency. Rather than sticking to the linear model of “take, waste and make,” a Circular Economy can be defined as “one that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.”
It goes further than the 3 R’s of reduce, reuse and recycle, and is widely acknowledged as something that will deliver economic, environmental and social benefits.
Many industries are looking to incorporate Circular Economy into their business model, from food to technology. The construction industry, which has been proactive in setting targets for the reduction of waste, particularly plastic, is now adopting circular economy and green construction methods are becoming more apparent.
What is Circular Economy in construction?
The construction industry accounts for approximately 60% of UK materials use and one third of all waste arisings, as well as accounting for around 23% of plastic consumption. So on the face of it, it would seem like quite a challenge for the construction industry to adopt the Circular Economy concept.
However, it is possible to reduce the production of waste, and maximise the value of recovered materials used throughout construction, maintenance and end of life.
By implementing the use of sustainable materials in not only developing new buildings, both in the building itself and the items used during delivery of the construction, the idea of adopting the concept of a Circular Economy is certainly achievable.
What can suppliers and manufacturers do to get involved in Circular Economy?
There are a range of steps that suppliers and manufacturers can take to embrace Circular Economy. These include:
- Effectively communicating end-of-life options including take-back schemes
- Minimise waste during manufacturing
- Remember packaging
- Start designing for remanufacture
As we continue to push towards sustainability, suppliers that understand and adapt their methods to meet those of their customers, will thrive.
At Westgate, we have launched and continue to develop our sustainable practices. We aim to follow guidelines on Circular Economy and the use of sustainable materials in construction with our eco-friendly internal hoarding product, Hoardfast.
Hoardfast is manufactured from up to 85% recycled plastic and is reusable across multiple projects or phased project work. At end-of-life, the panels are crushed down and used to manufacture new panels and other plastic items.
What can contractors do to get involved in Circular Economy?
Similarly, contractors can take measures to adopt a Circular Economy:
- Partner with suppliers offering circular economy benefits
- Take steps to eliminate waste
- Review the business case for procuring reused or recycled components
- Embrace digitalisation and BIM
By demonstrating leadership and developing knowledge, all of us in the construction industry can work towards creating a Circular Economy within the sector.