With Portico, Google would help cities identify any faulty materials found in buildings. While the technology does encourage reusing materials as much as possible, these materials have to prove safe. If they don’t, they get recycled to turn into something new for the city to use later on.
Another tool, called Portico, tracks the health of materials used in buildings. Google has used it internally in about 200 of its own buildings. “If you envision this world in which you’re endlessly cycling materials back into the system, it’s really critical that you know what’s in them, and that you know there’s nothing harmful,” says Brandt. Digital tools can also be used to create online marketplaces for reused building materials.
Chuck Sudo/Bisnow Whiner Beer Co. brews its beer at The Plant and opened a taproom whose bar, tables and chairs were made from reclaimed wood.
This 94K SF former slaughterhouse was abandoned and slated for demolition when John Edel — through his company Bubbly Dynamics — bought it in 2010 and slowly repurposed the building into a vertical farm and food production business committed to a “circular economy,” a closed loop of recycling and material reuse. Today, the Plant is home to several businesses where the waste stream from one business is repurposed for use by another business elsewhere in the building.
Isabel Ordonez Pizarro, an expert on how yo reuse materials from trash. Credit: Chalmers University of Technology
“In general, I think that people who are interested in circular economy or material recirculation will find my work useful. But I still think that it’s much work left to do. I would like to establish material recirculation hubs in urban areas, where local producers, secondary material providers, waste managers and makers can meet and create new ways of collaborating to enable material recovery. I also find it interesting to develop more efficient, decentralized waste management solutions and I believe that it would help users to sort their waste better,” Isabel says.
Susanne Baker of techUK says ambitious suite of efficiency standards being developed at EU level as part of Circular Economy legislation can boost eco-design of products.
Ultimately the intention is to extend product lifetimes, facilitate the ability to reuse components or recycle materials at the end of life, and to facilitate the reuse of components and/or recycled materials in products.
“In many cases, the net value of recycling waste materials is more than the value of the energy generated from them,” he said. “Also, reducing the need for virgin materials is the most important, from a perspective of environmental protection. Based on this logic, among the practices in circular economy, reuse is usually the best solution. Recycling and composting are the second best options. If reuse, recycling, and composting are not feasible or don’t make economic and environmental sense, waste to energy should be a good solution.”
Image credit: Till Krech/Wikimedia Commons
The WEF claims that less than a third of all construction and demolition waste is recovered and reused, resulting in billions of tonnes of materials being wasted. In the United States, about 40 percent of solid waste derives from construction and demolition.“Such waste involves a significant loss of valuable minerals, metals and organic materials,” wrote the WEF’s Keith Beene. “With such quantities involved, even small improvements in the way the construction industry works will have significant impacts on sustainability.”
The project recognises that closed loop recycling depends on three main factors: systematic dismantling of buildings; source sorting of waste to avoid mixed waste and contamination; and stringent specifications for recycled gypsum, so that it can be reincorporated into the manufacturing process. In practice, this involves the full spectrum of the supply chain, which is why the project’s membership is so broad.
Ultimately, the industry will need to take a holistic approach to deconstruction. But plasterboard is an important place to start. Its principal material, gypsum, is infinitely recyclable as gypsum, and unlocking the potential to keep this material within a closed cycle should provide valuable insight for other parts of the industry.
Equally crucial is to involve the entire supply chain. Marshalling materials in our sector is a long-term task, and a shift in mindset and a maturing marketplace for post-consumer waste should make sustainable practice a more attractive option in construction.
Mr Davies told letsrecycle.com: “This is part of a much wider cross governmental approach not only with waste but a much wider economic focus on how we use resources. The fundamental ambition we wish to give is to create the conditions for a circular economy in Wales. We not only want to develop the size of our waste ambitions but also we say that waste is a resource that can be used again and again.
“We do not want a disposable economy in Wales. Historically we have always taken great care of our possessions and I think that it is the basis of a virtuous circular economy.”