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July 27, 2017, 12:20 PM

Salvage's role in London's green future

By Michael Morel

Circular London © LWARB

London West, UK - This summer the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) published a summary of London's Circular Economy Route Map, an ambitious, multi-faceted plan to green London.

So what is a circular economy? In contrast to ordinary 'linear' economies modeled purely on consumption and disposal, the circular economy will keep "resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their life."

This all sounds promising, but how significant will the role of reclaimed materials be in this wide-ranging strategy?

The plan is divided into five areas - built environment, food, textiles, electrical, and plastics. Though reuse is mentioned throughout, the built environment section holds the most potential for the architectural salvage industry, particularly the section on managing building materials.

LWARB's intends to set reuse targets for new construction projects in London, something Salvo has proposed in the past. LWARB's targets are as yet unknown, nor is it clear if these targets would be requirements. Salvo suggests new buildings should have at least 1.5 per cent reclaimed materials by value, volume or weight, with green ratings granted to those built with over 3 per cent reclaimed materials.

LWARB also plans to investigate restrictions on reuse and greener demolition practices, two sides of the same coin. Many London salvage yards have been forced to close or relocate to outlying areas, increasing the expense and environmental cost of transporting those materials back into London for reuse. The extent of this problem is unknown so new research is welcome.

Like so many other industries, the challenges for architectural salvage are exacerbated by London's ruthless property market. Even if demolition standards improve and more materials are preserved for reuse, they still need to be stored nearby.

When property markets get involved, there are no easy answers. Encouragingly, the route map discusses 'meanwhile' spaces, which are temporary but underutilized areas created during redevelopment. For reclaimed materials not requiring long term storage, perhaps this could offset the costs of expensive salvage yards.

Facilitating reuse in many forms will help usher in London's sustainable future. Take a look at LWARB's Circular Economy Route Map to learn more about other parts of the plan.

London's Circular Economy Route Map
Salvo on reuse targets for new construction projects

Story Type:  News

ID: 101283

Date Modified: July 28, 2017, 12:01 PM

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