The Benefits of Recycled Building Materials

Illustration showing buildings, a digger, and a recycling symbol.

Want to learn about recycled building materials, how you can use them, and how you can contribute to this growing industry? 

Developers, architects, builders, and suppliers can benefit from learning about recycled building materials and their potential impacts. With the future of the construction and demolition industry looking increasingly green ♻🌱 let’s look at what construction materials are recycled (and recyclable) and the benefits of choosing recycled materials.

What Are Some Common Recycled Building Materials?Infographic showing a house labelled with commonly recycled building materials.

The following building materials are commonly recycled from building demolitions and reused in new projects:

  • Cement and concrete – These are crushed and recycled to create concrete aggregates or crusher dust (learn more about the concrete recycling process)
  • Bricks and pavers – These can sometimes be reused or are recycled in the same way as concrete (which is why they’re in our list of accepted materials)
  • Aluminium, steel, copper, and iron – These can sometimes be reused as-is or are melted down to be recycled into new beams, roofing, and more (with no degradation in performance)
  • Timber – Timber framing, beams, doors, fencing, panels, and flooring is sometimes reused (depending on its condition) or recycled to be used for chipboard, landscaping, and other applications
  • Plasterboard – As long as it’s uncontaminated, plasterboard can be crushed and used in other plaster products
  • Linoleum flooring – Old floors can be removed and recycled for use in new flooring and other products
  • Carpet – There are currently no carpet recycling programs in Australia, but sometimes carpets can be reused (depending on their condition and fibre content) or biodegraded. 

Why Bother With Recycling and Recycled Materials?

Even if your buildings and business operations have been successful without using recycled materials or processes (yet), you’ll likely need to make the switch sooner or later. 

Demand for recycled building materials is increasing due to a number of factors:

It’s an exciting time to work in the building and construction industry — especially if you’re prepared to try out new materials and ways of working.

7 Benefits of Recycled Building MaterialsInfographic showing reasons to recycle building materials.

We’ve shared previously about the benefits of recycling concrete, but let’s talk about the general benefits of recycling in construction (and using recycled building supplies):

1. Lower Costs

Using reclaimed or recycled building materials is often more economical than buying new products. This is a major benefit right now, following significant cost increases in the construction industry. Several years ago, we compared the cost of similar quarry materials with recycled concrete, and found that, overall, recycled products were more economical.

Plus, dumping unwanted construction and demolition waste materials for landfill can become costly due to dumping fees — in many cases, it costs less to separate recyclable waste and take it to a local recycling facility.

2. Improved Resource Efficiency

Construction resources are finite — so it’s important to make the most of resources once they are extracted. Where construction materials are able to be reused and recycled in the circular economy, it means that our industry can make the resources go further.

3. Reduced Landfill

Using recycled building materials means that we produce less waste and reduce the amount of product that goes to landfill. Since building and demolition material makes up a significant portion (18%) of Australia’s core waste disposal, this can have a significant impact on our landfills. 

The good news is that we already recover 78% of construction and demolition waste in Australia — but there’s still plenty of room to grow this figure.

4. Preserve Natural HabitatsBirds eye view of a quarry.

Recycling waste from construction reduces demand for fresh materials needed to construct new buildings — which means less quarrying, less mining, and fewer trees cut down. This means less damage to natural habitats and more of our beautiful country left for our native wildlife (and for our own enjoyment).

5. Saving Energy and Emissions

Studies have shown that recycled building materials help to reduce the amount of energy that is consumed (and emissions produced) when building new structures. Researchers found that remaking building materials from recycled ones uses 10-25% less energy, compared to not using recycled materials.

There are a number of potential reasons for this, but one is that if you can source locally recycled construction materials close to your worksite, this reduces the transport (and therefore emissions) used, rather than sourcing new product, which may have a complex supply chain from various primary producers to manufacturers, distributors, and resellers.

Learn more about how concrete recycling can reduce carbon emissions.

6. Reduced Environmental Impact

Research has found that using recycled material during the construction phase of a building’s life cycle (and ensuring its materials are recycled during the disposal phase) reduces its environmental impact by up to 65%.

7. Increased Innovation

Committing to recycled building materials requires architects, engineers, and builders to rethink their approach to designs, construction techniques, technologies, and the materials used. This innovation can open up doors to new industries, new efficiencies, reduced costs, greater competition, and other improvements to buildings and the build process itself.

For example, a study found that concrete structures containing recycled concrete aggregate may perform better than concrete with natural aggregate (in some ways). The concrete with recycled contents reached and sustained higher levels of strength after around 10 days. 

Recycled concrete aggregates are also better at consolidating together than virgin aggregates, forming a harder and more stable hardstand.

Find Recycled Building Materials & Suppliers in SEQ

Based in SEQ and looking for recycled building materials? We’d love to help… and introduce you to some of our local contacts:

Moreton Bay Recycling – Recycled Concrete Aggregates and Dust

At Moreton Bay Recycling, we’re well known for our high quality recycled concrete aggregates — and we accept and crush concrete waste here on site in Narangba in Brisbane’s North. And our recycled building materials are used in residential and commercial builds throughout the region. We proudly supply to large and small builders, councils, landscapers, and more, covering everything from recycled concrete driveways and drainage rock to underslab and compactible fill. 

To get started, simply call our team on (07) 3293 4949 or visit our site in Narangba.

Jumbo Skip Bins – Concrete & Masonry Recycling

To make recycling even easier, we’ve partnered with Jumbo Skip Bins — they can supply bins for your construction and demolition waste, including dedicated concrete/brick/roof tile bins for recycling at MBR. And if you need recycled concrete aggregates, Jumbo can also deliver a load to your site along with your skip bin, so that you can save on delivery costs. Learn more about our partnership here.

Kennedy’s Timbers – Reclaimed Timber

If you’re looking to source sustainable timber materials, we can also recommend that you check out Kennedy’s Timbers (also based in Narangba). They have been involved in some amazing projects around Australia and specialise in reclaimed timber with a variety of species, finishes, and applications.

Have you discovered a recycled building material or supplier that’s not covered here? We’d love to know (and potentially add to this list) — especially if they’re in the local area. Reach out and let us know!

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