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Industry news: March 2011

Reduction in the amount of construction and demolition waste sent to landfill

According to a new report released by WRAP (Waste& Resources Action Programme) there has been a significant decrease in the amount of construction and demolition waste sent to landfill. The figures come from 32 construction contractors who have signed up to the WRAP-coordinated Halving Waste to Landfill Commitment.

The 32 signatories monitored and reported their annual performance for construction, demolition and excavation (CD&E) waste. Among the signatories are some of the UK's largest contractors, with a total annual construction spend in excess of £21 billion over the reporting period.

Figures for the 32 companies show a decrease of 28 per cent in the amount of CD&E waste sent to landfill between 2008 and 2009. This amounts to a reduction from 3.1 million tonnes in 2008 to 2.2 million tonnes by year end 2009. The data also showed companies had produced less waste relative to construction spend, suggesting that companies are taking steps to prevent waste production.

Dr Liz Goodwin, WRAP CEO, said: "Today's Halving Waste to Landfill figures are just the beginning and give me confidence that industry is working hard and is well on track to deliver the target by 2012".


Tarmac secures Carbon Trust Standard

Tarmac has recently been awarded the Carbon Trust Standard in recognition of its efforts to measure, manage and reduce its carbon emissions by almost 15 per cent across all of its UK operations including quarries, asphalt plants, concrete plants, and lime and cement operations. The company has also reduced CO2 emissions per tonne of cement produced by about 41 per cent over the last 10 years.

Tarmac's director of sustainability, Dr Martyn Kenny, said that the award recognised Tarmac's long-term commitment to reducing environmental impacts and carbon emissions across all of its operations. He added that a number of initiatives, at a cost of £13.4 million, had been put in place to manage carbon emissions, including energy efficient kilns that have reduced emissions by 40 per cent per tonne of lime produced, and SMART-metering technology to monitor energy usage.


10 years' remaining void life for UK landfill industry

Landfill, © Getty Images.

According to a recently published report on the waste and landfill sector, by BDS Marketing Research Ltd, the landfill industry has only 10 years' remaining void life.

Of the companies operating in this sector, Waste Recycling Group Limited (WRG) is thought to have the largest remaining consented void, about 25 per cent of industry void. The second largest consented void is owned by Viridor and represents an estimated 10 per cent of total consented void space. In order of size, Biffa, Veolia and SITA complete the list of top five companies, each of which has an estimated void life of about nine years.

According to the report there has been a shortage of new void consents over the past year. BDS has identified only one million cubic metres of additional consented void since the beginning of 2010. During the same period applications for an additional 13 million cubic metres of void have been withdrawn or refused.

The report also highlights regional variations in void levels. In the South East and South West, BDS consider the remaining void space to represent less than eight years at current infill rates, while in York and Humberside void space is estimated to be about nine years. In all other regions void space is believed to be in excess of ten years.

BDS believes that void life will extend beyond the 10-year average, due to decreasing amounts of waste being sent to landfill in response to the recession and development of alternative waste-treatment options.


Energy minister orders review of UK nuclear power

Chris Huhne, energy and climate change secretary, has held talks with British nuclear experts to assess the impact of the Japanese nuclear disaster on the UK's power supplies. The meeting, held in London, saw ministers meet with nuclear industry experts and led to plans to produce two public reports on the present status and future of Britain's nuclear industry.

Mr Huhne said: "Safety is, and will continue to be, the number one priority for existing nuclear sites and for any new power stations".

Dr Mike Weightman, the UK's chief nuclear inspector, has been ordered to write both reports. The first will be an interim report to be completed by mid-May 2011, with a final report to follow within six months; both reports will be made public.

Dr Weightman said: "We must establish the facts on these unprecedented events and determine if there are any lessons to be learned for the UK, to add to our very robust safety standards and arrangements". He also said that the reports would be "public, independent, evidence based, comprehensive and wide in scope" he added that national and international organisations would be consulted with in the production of these reports.


Novel waste-treatment process creates construction aggregate and captures CO2

Carbon8 Systems Ltd, which uses carbon dioxide (CO2) in the treatment of industrial wastes and contaminated soils, has achieved a world first by manufacturing construction aggregate at the same time as capturing carbon dioxide from landfill gas.

Carbon8 Systems Ltd, set-up by a group of academic scientists, provides solutions for treating industrial wastes and contaminated soils. The team has created a process, called accelerated carbonation, which captures CO2 generated by the decomposition of waste but also uses waste material to absorb CO2 from other sources that would otherwise end-up in the atmosphere.

Methane emitted from decomposing waste is combusted in a specially designed boiler to generate a CO2-rich gas that is used to treat ash produced by waste incineration. After taking on its load of CO2, the ash is ready for use as an aggregate material for construction or the production of concrete blocks.

Dr Paula Carey, Carbon8 Systems' managing director, who has been developing this technology for over 10 years said: "Accelerated carbonation has a significant positive environmental impact in that it prevents a hazardous waste going to landfill, reduces the need for natural aggregate and captures carbon dioxide from the environment". She added that the process is low-cost and extremely fast "taking just minutes", she also said that if widely adopted the process could capture "more than 1 million tonnes of waste carbon dioxide".

The company has already licensed the technology for the treatment of incinerator ash waste in the UK, they are also exploring opportunities in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.


Tarmac release Roads 2020 report

Road, © Getty Images.

Tarmac has recently published Roads 2020, a major new report into the future of local authority roads throughout the UK. This unique research initiative identifies and addresses key issues relating to highways maintenance.

Tarmac, along with Surveyor Magazine, asked local authorities from around the UK to consider the future of highways maintenance provision:

  • How many local authorities are thinking about changing their highways function?
  • Do local authorities want private sector partners to deliver increased efficiencies?
  • How much importance is being placed on the development of durable surfacing materials?
  • Will the current maintenance backlog be cleared by 2020?

Managing director of Tarmac National Contracting & Middle East, Paul Fleetham, said: "In this post-Comprehensive Spending Review landscape, we felt that this was an appropriate time to survey the opinions of senior local authority professionals with a view to kick-starting the debate on highways maintenance". He also said that it was important to gauge opinion on current challenges and the future of UK roads.

Mr Fleetham added that the report provides an "interesting snapshot on outsourcing, the Lean agenda, sustainability and material use". He said the report also highlights the challenges faced by local authorities and the need for private sector companies to drive efficiencies and deliver innovation.

Source: [No longer available]

British Aggregates Association's (BAA) legal case returns to European Court

EU flag, © Ingram Publishing.

The British Aggregates Association's (BAA) legal challenge to the Aggregates Levy is to return to the EU General Court in Luxembourg. This follows a successful appeal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by the Association back in December 2008, when the ECJ overturned an earlier decision made by the EU General Court in 2006 that the Levy was lawful and did not constitute state aid. The case was returned to the EU General Court for reconsideration.

The BAA's lawyers have requested judgement be issued as quickly as possible, as the case has been running for nine years, despite the EU charter of Fundamental Rights, which the lawyers point out grants "the right to an effective remedy" and a hearing "within a reasonable time".

Robert Durward, BAA director, said that it appeared the on-going saga of the legal challenge was coming to a close. He added that the Levy "has never produced any environmental benefit and should have been scrapped years ago under the Government's own tests for environmental taxation".

In spite of the hearing, the Government announced that plans to increase the Aggregate Levy from £2.00 to £2.10 per tonne in April 2011 will be postponed until April 2012.


New publications from the BGS

The British Geological Survey has released the annual publication European Mineral Statistics. This publication provides comprehensive statistical data on minerals production, consumption and trade to 2009. This report is free to download from the MineralsUK website:

BGS has also released a new fluorspar commodity profile, covering a broad range of topics including: mineralogy and deposits; extraction and processing; specification and uses; world resources and reserves; world production and trade; recycling and substitution; and a focus on fluorspar in Britain. The report is free to download from the MineralsUK website: