Home > Construction Methods > Reclaimed Materials

Reclaimed Materials

By: Jennifer Gray - Updated: 6 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
Reclaimed Materials Reclamation

The construction industry is under increasing pressure to become sustainable. One way to address this is through the use of reclaimed materials. Reclaimed materials are those that have been previously used in a building or project, and which are then re-used in another project. The materials might be altered, re-sized, refinished, or adapted, but they are not reprocessed in any way, and remain in their original form. Materials that have been reprocessed and reused in the building industry are referred to as recycled materials.

Examples of materials that can be reclaimed include: bricks, slate roofing, ceramic tiles, fireplaces, doors, window frames, glass panels, metal fixtures and fittings, stairs, cobbled stones, steel sections and timber. A reclaimed material is often adapted for a different use, for example a roof beam might be used as a mantelpiece. This is known as re-purposing.

Why Reclaim?

The building industry has a massive impact on the environment in terms of energy consumption, use of natural resources, pollution and waste. Every year in the UK, construction materials account for around: 6 tonnes of materials per person, 122 million tonnes of waste (1/3 of total UK waste) and 18% of carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to global climate change. On top of this, the embodied costs associated with the extraction, production, manufacture and transportation of building materials are immense. Using reclaimed materials can significantly reduce these environmental impacts, and save up to 95% of the embodied costs by preventing unnecessary production of new materials, and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Where to Find Materials

The best place to source reclaimed materials is direct from a demolition or re-modelling project. Many of these projects carefully dismantle buildings in such a way that their materials can be sold and re-used. In the building trade this is known as deconstruction.

Reclaimed materials can also be sourced from salvage centres, reclamation yards and other specialist companies, who buy and sell materials that they have salvaged themselves from demolished sites. There are hundreds of salvage companies, some which deal only in high-end architectural materials, and others that are more like junkyards. Good quality, rare and heritage materials can be gleaned from salvage suppliers, and while purchasing can be more expensive than those sourced direct from a demolition site, there is a much wider choice of materials available on demand.

An Untapped Market

Although there are substantial environmental benefits to using reclaimed materials, the market is virtually untapped. At the moment, only 1% of reclaimed materials are used in new building projects, a percentage that should really be higher. One of the barriers has been a lack of information about sourcing and using the materials in design and development - including knowledge of specifications, standards, legislation and performance. But there are economic barriers too, including the cost of extraction in deconstruction, the limited flexibility of reclaimed materials, and problems of storing and double handling of materials between sites. In addition, medium to large building projects cannot take advantage of the reclamation industry, because the salvage supply chain is not yet equipped to deal with large orders.

Reclamation in Sustainable Development

Ongoing rapid development means that many historic buildings are being demolished to make way for new affordable housing and commercial space. Redirecting building materials from the waste stream of this process, and reusing them in other nearby projects is a critical component of sustainable development. There is a huge amount of construction waste, and the potential to reuse this to reduce landfill and new materials is enormous. When reclaimed materials are secured from an existing building site, the environmental impact is virtually zero. Even when they are sourced from far away, reclaimed materials are still the most environmentally friendly option for supplying materials to the building industry.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
This is a cheeky message... Nextdoor neighbour of a friend of mine (naively)has been taken for £6000 by a pair of builders who wouldn't even rate as cowboys... In fact even cowboy builders would be ashamed at what has been done it is so bad. I doubt even trading standards (as a cllr I work with them from time to time) would be able to retrieve any of their outlay. I'm looking for some 3.0 3.5m to lengths (have yet to measure properly... I was so shocked at the work) of 30 to 40mm trapezoid profile roofing panels to cover about 5m in length . this is what has been effectively wrecked. I'm hoping someone out there has some materials they simply want to shift.
Mike - 6-Oct-19 @ 10:44 AM
To whom this may concen I am makeing a few enquiries to see if you would be interested in some meterials i have available left over from a building project we have just completed. OPEN TO Offers solid oak trusses available 6 solied oak mantal peice mount available 2 cast iron plates and floor cover2 xround plates 6 x square floor grates fresh sawn sleepers european grade new aailable x 48 A pair ov huge victioria door stops Offers We also have over 100 peices of yorkshire stone mix slabs I also have 2 x 20ft shipping containers air and water tight very good condition I am looking for an offer on all the stock really looking for quick sale as the property is now sold and i do not have the space to store this all items are as seen in pictures i only use the best stock i can also deliver Kind regards Adam biggs WAINHOUSE SERVICES LTD Company number 04856848
mark - 12-Feb-19 @ 12:23 AM
I was creating a business logo and searched "what is another way to say we specialize in the use of reclaimed materials." I want to market myself as one who can and will use reclaimed materials and I would like to grow a customer base and network so we can make this a thing. I am in the Richmond Va area and want to try to get this going. Sustainability isn't for us it is for the generations to come. If out dissent start now the how much more will we waste. there is so much waste that can be utilized perhaps there is an app that people to go on to let others know when something is available.
Early - 20-Mar-18 @ 9:46 PM
Britain desperately needs something like H for H's RESTORE shops, located throughout North American cities.Used and surplus building supplies.A truly valuable resource, from exterior to interior bits and bobs, including timber, used sinks, anything you can think of, that isn't 'reclamation' in the antique/expensive sense.A think reclamation centres are great, but there is also a need for utilitarian modern cast-offs.
mejr - 17-Jul-15 @ 11:11 AM
is there any process to reuse the concreat waste
shams - 24-Dec-12 @ 6:02 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments