Don’t Waste, Don’t Want: Building Materials You Can Reuse and Recycle

In this guest article from Reconomy, waste management service providers look at building materials that can be reused and recycled.

The construction sector is responsible for 11% of carbon emissions worldwide. To address this, the UK government has introduced a ten-point plan to reduce carbon emissions within industry. This includes disseminating lifetime carbon assessments to the general public and updating design standards.

The construction industry can do many other things to reduce its carbon footprint, including reusing and recycling building materials. As well as being environmentally conscious, research shows it can reduce costs and improve a company’s credibility. So think outside the box and focus on sustainable waste management.

This article will explore some of the building materials that you can reuse and recycle. Whether you are managing a sustainable project or building your own home, these materials will leave you with a clear conscience and the world with a cleaner atmosphere.


The war on plastic is an ongoing effort. More than 380 million tons of plastic are thrown away each year, and only 9% are recycled adequately. To combat this, the construction industry can recycle and reuse its plastic waste. This includes plasterboard (or drywall), which is found in walls and floors.

Since walls are an integral part of any building, the construction industry produces a surplus of plasterboard. One of the best ways to get rid of it is to recycle in one stream. This allows companies to easily recycle large volumes of waste and can be applied to some of the materials below.


Metal is a durable and strong building material. If you want to build with the environment in mind, steel is a great metal to work with. In fact, research shows that the steel we use is 40% recycled scrap. This means you reduce carbon emissions before construction begins.

It is also simple to recycle or reuse the steel. In construction, metal bars are placed inside the walls to provide strength and stability. These are called rebars. Whether you’re building from scratch or renovating a space, you may have a surplus of this material. However, since the Steel Recycling Institute claims that approximately 65% ​​of these bars are recycled, this shouldn’t be a problem.


In the UK, brick is the most common material used to build houses. If you walk down any street in the country, you will see bricks upon bricks shaping the environment around you. It is therefore important that we are able to make this building material as sustainable as possible. Fortunately, salvaged bricks can be used in construction.

One of the best times to use recycled bricks is during a renovation, from restoring a century-old public building to replacing a wall in a converted barn. They may be slightly less suitable for insulation, but they will add a touch of vintage style to any renovation project. So you can save the environment one salvaged brick at a time.

wooden pallets

Construction is no small feat. Building a simple structure requires a large number of different materials. These are often stacked and stored on wooden pallets. In the UK, these pallets account for 10% of construction industry waste. To reduce this waste, companies can try to reuse it or recycle it into scrap wood.

Overall, the construction industry still has a long way to go before it becomes carbon neutral. Government plans are underway to reduce the environmental impact of the sector, but it always pays to start small and focus on the small things. So, using materials that can be recycled and reused is a great way to be environmentally conscious. By following these simple steps, builders and engineers spark hope for a greener future. How will you help build a carbon-conscious society?