Construction Waste Recycling

9 Aug 2019
10 mins

Latest statistics from Defra shows the UK’s construction, demolition, and excavation industries produce 61% of all waste generated, three times higher than industrial and commercial waste and five times higher than household waste

Business waste can be unavoidable, especially in the construction and demolition industry where opportunities for reusing the materials are often limited or non-existent. However, no matter what sector your business operates in, it is still a legal requirement to follow the waste management hierarchy of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste before disposal. As a responsible and compliant company, you've probably already taken steps to reduce your waste, either by self-assessment or by contacting your waste management provider for advice, but what happens to construction waste after it has left your site?

This article details the benefits of effective waste management in the construction and demolition sector and how common construction materials can be recycled and made into new resources once they’ve left Biffa’s processing facilities.

Why is an effective waste management solution important for your construction business?

According to government statistics, construction and demolition businesses in the UK generated 66.2 million tonnes of waste. However despite the UK’s high output, the construction industry has a recovery rate of 91%.

Recovery rates are typically high for construction materials due to their high demand and greater market value compared to other materials as they can often be reused with little effect to the quality. It’s not out of sight (or site), out of mind, being aware of the importance of effective waste management and the value of construction waste recycling and reusing materials will help ensure recovery rates continue to rise benefiting the UK’s industries and the environment by avoiding landfill.

The benefits of proper construction waste management include:

  • Compliance. Businesses are legally responsible for their waste, even after it has left the property. This applies to those that produce, import or export, carry or transport, keep or store, treat, or dispose of waste. Biffa can help guide you on relevant regulation changes and give you peace of mind that your commercial waste is being disposed of responsibly.
  • Health and safety. Correct waste handling and segregation will reduce risks to employees and the public from materials left in inappropriate places.
  • Reduced costs. Landfill tax is currently £91.35/tonne and due to rise again next year. With construction materials weighing a significant amount it pays to be environmentally consciences. Having an experienced waste management provider will help you avoid unnecessary disposal costs.
  • Improved reputation. Businesses that demonstrate consideration for the environment will develop a positive reputation, improving their relationships with customers and clients. 


      Biffa offers nationwide skip hire from 6 to 35-yard containers and a new same day delivery for 6 and 8-yard skips in Yorkshire and the West Midlands.

Skip being loaded on to a truck

What is construction waste?

Construction, demolition, and excavation sites all generate various types of waste. Inert waste make up the bulk of construction, demolition, and excavation waste but other types of materials are also found. Common types of construction waste include:

* Concrete, bricks, tiles, cement, and ceramics.
* Wood, glass, and plastic.
* Insulation and asbestos materials.
* Metallic waste (such as pipes).
* Soil and stones.
* Paints and varnishes.
* Adhesives and sealants.

It’s important to be aware of what types your business produces, because many of these can be salvaged, reused, or recycled. It also enables you to segregate it all correctly, so your waste collectors can remove it from your site properly and safely, especially as some materials, such as asbestos, solvents and oil based paints are considered hazardous and needs specialist disposal.

Disposing of your business’s construction waste

Prior to commencing a job, identify opportunities to reduced or reused materials without effecting the quality or safety of your work. Following the completion of a job, you’ve probably already chosen the best means to dispose of construction waste, whether it’s hiring a skip or a van collection service for small renovation projects.

Remember: You should ensure that you hire the necessary number of skips to separate recycling and waste, as well as hazardous and non-hazardous waste. See the Biffa blog for 6 Important Things To Consider Before Hiring a Skip. 

When hiring a skip with Biffa, you can be sure that we operate with the correct license to carry waste. We also have a nationwide network of construction and demolition sorting and recycling and facilities to ensure as much material as possible avoids landfill, saving landfill taxes for our customers. Once construction materials reaches one of our construction and demolition facilities it is separated into single streams. Wherever possible materials are cleaned and sold on as commodities or sent for recycling at a specialist facility. Here are just some of the uses that common construction materials can be recycled for:


Construction material    Can be recycled for
 Concrete   Roads, pavements and aggregate for new concrete
 Brick/Masonry  Aggregate for gravel, broken down to make smaller bricks, sand
 Metal   A variety of new metal items (metal is 100% recyclable)
 Glass  Sand, gravel, new building materials (glass is 100% recyclable)
 Wood  Landscaping mulch, bedding, fuel, composite board products and pallets
CD recycling infographicSource:
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Author: Biffa

This article was written by one of Biffa's own experts and content writers.