Infrastructure sector urged to make more use of recycled materials

Robert Spencer

SCOTLAND’S construction industry has been urged to make more use of recycled materials on infrastructure projects to help end the ‘take-make-waste’ culture.

The Scottish Infrastructure Circular Economy Forum (SICEF), convened by infrastructure firm AECOM together with key infrastructure owners and operators, has said that instead of automatically building with virgin materials, there should be a ‘concerted drive’ to use materials that are recycled or from secondary sources.

SICEF chair and AECOM sustainability director Robert Spencer said, “As we embark on the climate decade with all eyes on industry taking a leadership role in decarbonising our economies, the re-use of materials will decrease the carbon footprint of construction and reduce negative impacts on the environment and communities. The circular economy provides a compelling model for reducing emissions and stewarding critical resources. This is particularly the case in Scotland with its ambitious target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045 together with the low carbon agenda set out in the National Infrastructure Mission.”

The call to action has been made in SICEF’s inaugural White Paper for the sector.

SICEF believes it is time to introduce framework conditions to accelerate a recycled and secondary raw materials market. There are three different elements coming together to provide this catalyst: public sector policies increasingly supporting the circular economy, financial investors in infrastructure wanting to see increasingly sustainable practices, and technology enabling businesses to better track and monitor use of materials and their suitability.

Alex Sutton, sustainability officer at SSEN Transmission said, “Building a circular economy is an important step in the wider transition towards Net Zero. Investment in Scottish infrastructure will be a critical part of this transition and in the post-Covid economic recovery, this is our chance to build back better by addressing sustainable resource use in infrastructure. The new SICEF White Paper provides a clear signal to policymakers and supply chains on the areas in which SSEN Transmission and other Scottish infrastructure providers seek collaboration in order to advance the circular economy.”