An initial report released by Zero Avoidable Packaging in waste construction (ZAP) has aimed to better understand the key types of plastic packaging arising on construction sites and identify opportunities for reduction and better management of them across the construction lifecycle.
Funded by the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and led by the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, the ZAP project links with real-world construction projects to build case studies and develop training guidance that will demonstrate the positive actions the whole supply chain and sector can do.
Barriers to recycling
In its maiden report since the project was launched in February the ZAP project has found that on-site barriers in the construction sector such as limited initiatives to reduce packaging, inadequate commitment to increasing recycled content, and a lack of substitute materials, can make recycling problematic.
Further compounding the problem are the economics of segregation on-site, the variety of plastic packaging types on construction sites, and the difficulty of segregating plastic packaging materials, which can lead to contamination and difficulty of reprocessing it further down the chain.
It was also found that reuse of packaging is not commonplace. Only a few examples were found in relation to reusable, collapsible boxes for mechanical and electrical products and use of returnable bulk containers for liquids. The cost of logistics and the possible need for Environmental Permits were also cited as barriers.
A far-reaching problem
Gareth Morton, Ecosurety Discovery manager, said: “This report has shone a spotlight on the extent of the challenge the construction industry, which is the second highest plastic consumer by sector, faces in recycling plastic packaging. It is not about pointing fingers but highlighting an issue that every business sector is facing, that of plastic and the need to find workable solutions to reduce it.
“We are really pleased to see the first fruits of the ZAP project in this report which give pause to evaluate how far industries are yet to travel before reaching the destination of zero waste.
“A massive congratulations to the ZAP project for releasing such a thought-provoking report. We are looking forward to the next one.”
Read the entire ZAP project report here