The UK construction industry could cut carbon emissions by 40% – according to the latest statistics that look at how the construction industry is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions. The news comes as calls for the government to set targets to reduce the number of raw materials used in construction by a third – according to ThinkTank. To do so would be a massive achievement considering that, according to government statistics, construction, demolition, and excavation work generated 62 per cent of the UK’s waste in 2018. Will it happen? Let’s explore.
The UK construction industry produces significant amounts of waste each year, including hazardous and non-hazardous waste. In 2018, it was estimated that the construction industry in the UK produced around 120 million tonnes of waste – the equivalent of approximately 60% of the total waste produced in the country. That can be from things like soft strip demolition, raw materials used to construct, or simply general waste you’ll find on a construction site.
Some of the most common types of waste produced by the construction industry include:
- Concrete and masonry waste
- Timber and wood waste
- Metal waste
- Plastic waste
- Cardboard and paper waste
- Hazardous waste, such as asbestos and contaminated soil
There are numerous negative impacts on the environment that the government and environmental groups like Green Alliance are trying to eradicate. One of the primary ways is through greenhouse gas emissions produced during the extraction, processing, transportation, and disposal of construction materials. Production of building materials such as cement, steel, and glass can be energy-intensive and generate significant greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, the transportation of these materials to construction sites can also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Similarly, the construction industry often involves the destruction of natural habitats and ecosystems, which can have long-lasting impacts on biodiversity and the environment. Depending on where the construction takes place, entire ecosystems can be wiped out.
To address this issue, the UK government has implemented several regulations and initiatives to reduce the amount of waste produced by the construction industry. That includes requirements for construction companies to develop waste management plans, to use recycled materials where possible, and to dispose of hazardous waste in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner. Additionally, there are initiatives to encourage the reuse of materials and to promote circular economy principles in the construction industry.
Will this actually change anything, and will the government take action promptly? Well, there are soon-to-be strategies in place within the next two years that will work, including the requirement for new buildings to produce 70-75% fewer emissions by 2025.
The UK construction industry is booming thanks to the demand of a growing population. It’s one of the most rapidly expanding countries and industries in the world, currently worth £128.9 billion and expanding rapidly. With plans for construction coming to fruition daily, it’s essential that the government finds ways to reduce waste and protect the environment.