Circular alternative - Introducing reused timber in large-scale retail sale
This idea is a part of The Circular Construction Challenge – Rethink Waste
A circular alternative to timber used for temporary constructions on building sites – first step in large-scale sale of reused building materials.
Denmark produces 4.1-mio tons construction and demolition waste per year. Up to over 300.000 tons of this waste is waste originating from new building materials (Danish EPA report no. 1919, 2017). Waste from new building materials is defined as building materials, which are supplied to the construction site but which are not incorporated into the final building. This waste is normally dominated by wood, gypsum and insulation. One of the largest contributors to the wood fraction is timber used for temporary constructions (i.e. guardrails, toe boards, stairs, framework panels, plywood hoarding etc.) on construction sites. The temporarily used timber has a short life span (less than 6 months), after which, it is today disposed of by incineration, mainly due to logistics challenges and a lacking market, despite of its optimal features for reuse.
Our idea is to develop and implement a process where timber from temporary constructions is collected, checked, processed and sold for reuse in the same function. In order to make the reuse of this material available, easy, cheap and reliable, it will be introduced as the first reused material into large-scale retail sale.
In order to introduce this reused product, Golder Associates will together with its strategic partners STARK Group and Solum A/S, initiate a project, where the economy, quantity, quality, logistics (storage and transport) and market for reused timber from temporary constructions will be investigated.
In addition to changing the lifecycle of large volumes of timber from linear to circular, gaining more knowledge of reuse on this scale aims to open up for many other reused building materials becoming interesting for the retail business. A business, where the range of reused products today is almost negligible in the otherwise wide array of materials in assortment.
Circularity – What makes the solution circular?
The solution will change the lifecycle of timber used in temporary constructions from linear (disposed of by incineration) to circular (reuse of material), thereby decreasing the input of raw materials and waste output to the environment. This material fraction is particularly interesting from the circularity perspective because the life span of this material is very short (less than 6 months), the product is not significantly changed or exposed to hazardous substances and the volumes disposed of as waste are significant.
In addition, by introducing a reused building material in large-scale retail sale, the solution will help remove barriers for reused building materials, helping the building industry to perceive waste as a resource, thereby contributing to a paradigm change to circular economy.
Vision – What is the visionary aim of the solution?
The visionary aim of the solution is to introduce a reused material in large-scale retail sale at Stark Group stores. Gaining more knowledge of the economy, quantity, quality, logistics and market of the reused product on this scale, aims to open up for many other reused building materials becoming interesting for the retail business.
Value creation – What value do you create for the user, the planet and the society at large?
By introducing a cheap and sustainable alternative to new building materials in large-scale retail sale, the solution will help remove barriers across the supply chain for reused building materials, helping the building industry to perceive waste as a resource.
Waste from new construction materials is particularly interesting in a circularity perspective, as there are both environmental and economic advantages in reducing this fraction (Danish EPA report no. 1919, 2017). Temporary wood constructions at building sites are according to aDanish EPA report (Danish EPA report no. 1919, 2017), mentioned as one of the five most widespread sources of waste from new construction materials.
Value for the user:
A) An economically attractive product
By creating a large-scale retail market, where the reused product is available next to the new materials this project will create a platform, where the consumer will have reliable and easy access to a reused product for a competitive price making this an attractive alternative for the similar new product.
B) A product with environmental advantages and business potential
This solution will provide customers with a product, which will make it easier to comply with sustainable construction standards. In Denmark, the DGNB standard for sustainable construction requires that wood for temporary use must either be recycled or certified. This project will make it easier for customers to comply with this requirement by offering readily available reused timber.
C) Remove barriers for reuse
Timber from temporary constructions is today disposed of as combustible waste due to a set of barriers limiting the separate collection of the material. The barriers consist of:
- Lack of professional market to purchase/take timber for reuse;
- Lack of logistical solutions, as there is often no time or space for storage between construction projects;
- Lack of financial incentives for reuse and recycling of wood as it is easier, faster and in some cases more economical to dispose it.
By creating a large-scale market for used timber from temporary construction, the solution will provide construction sites with a solid process for return of these timber materials covering procedures for storage and logistics that fit into the primary construction site processes.
The solution will also provide an economic incentive for separate collection of timber from temporary constructions in forms of lower waste handling cost for constructors.
The aim with this project is that the large-scale retail market for reused products will grow, increasing both supply and demand. In this way, the barriers above will automatically be removed, expectantly causing spill-over effects for other material fractions of construction waste.
Value for the planet and society at large:
Timber materials originate from forests, which as well as being home to 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity (WWF), also play a vital role in regulating the climate and are critical to addressing the impact of climate change. Although wood is a sustainable building material when forests are managed sustainably, the growing global demand for resources will put increasing pressure on the resource efficiency of our forest use and timber consumption. Furthermore, an average of 1.8 kg CO2 is stored in 1 kg wood. Carbon stored in wood (in this case timber) is only released back to the atmosphere when the product is incinerated or it decays.
Direct reuse increases resource efficiency and this project offers a solution for direct reuse of an estimated 50.000 tons timber products yearly by separating the reusable timber from other construction waste, hereby preventing it from ending as combustible waste, thereby reducing resources and climate impact.
Scalability – What is the market potential of the solution?
The market potential of this solution is significant, as the volumes of the timber used for temporary constructions on construction sites can be expected only in Denmark to be up to 50.000 tons annually. The solution has the potential of introducing the product to a very large retail market, consisting of 180 stores in four Nordic Countries. In addition, the solution has the potential to remove barriers for other reused building materials hereby opening up a completely new market of reused products.
In addition to changing the lifecycle of large volumes of timber from linear to circular, gaining more knowledge of reuse on this scale, aims to open up for many other reused building materials becoming interesting for the retail business - a business, where the range of reused products today is almost negligible in the otherwise wide array of materials in assortment.
Furthermore, this project aims to open up for new strategic partnerships for reuse and recycling of materials in order to produce new materials within the construction industry.
Co-creation – Who is contributing to the solution?
Golder Associates has together with the following strategic partners STARK Group and Solum A/S created a project group that will contribute to the solution. The project group partnership has been initiated as a collaboration across the value supply chain with the idea that there can be business potential in circular thinking - "one man's waste is another man's gold".
- Golder Associates will provide the solution with expert knowledge on management and documentation of the circular process regarding investigations of economy, quantity, quality, logistics (storage and transport) and processing of the material.
- Solum A/S will provide the solution with the necessary facility and personnel for receiving, monitoring, storing, processing and packing timber from temporary construction.
- Stark will provide the solution with a distribution channel and contribute to the development and implementation of the circular market. Stark will also be managing the investigation of the market.
Furthermore, a professional network of experts within construction, waste handling, NGO’s, trade organisations and research will be incorporated as necessary.
Golder Associates A/S
Golder Associates is a consultant company specializing in environmental consulting and geotechnical engineering. Golder Associates was formed in Canada in 1960 and now has 8,500 employees working in a well-functioning network in 180 local offices across all continents.
Golder Associates' Danish Department in Kgs. Lyngby has 16 employees, where the majority have special knowledge in demolition and environmentally hazardous substances, including strong competences in reuse, recycling and recovery of construction and demolition waste.
Golder is also a part of the consortium VHGB (“National Knowledge Center for Recycling and Handling Construction Waste) providing instruction to the construction and demolition industry on handling waste.
Maria Ekblad, HSQE Manager, MSc
STARK GROUP is the largest retailer and distributor of building materials in the Nordic region with 180 stores in 4 countries. STARK GROUP’s customer base is broad, ranging from major contractors, builders and consumers to distributors and industries. In monetary terms, one third of STARK Groups sales are timber or timber-based. As the largest building materials supplier in the Nordics, STARK Group has a responsibility to source products responsibly, to support solutions that reduce material consumption and waste, and to make sustainable products available to their customers.
STARK Denmark is a member of Green Building Council Denmark and a resource partner of Sustainable Build.
Louise Askær-Hune, Environmental Business Partner, PhD.
Solum A/S is a waste company based in Rosklde, Denmark who treat and sort more than 175.000 tons of waste into raw materials, at the two waste plants within the company. Solum A/S is Denmark’s largest supplier of compost, growth media and turf care products. Solum A/S was founded in 1986 and has 50 employees spread across the group, specialized within materials as organic waste, plastic, wood and biomass.
Solum A/S is one of members of the Danish Government’s Advisory Board for Circular Economy.
Morten Strandlod, Resource Manager
An outline of the competences we need to realize the idea?
In addition to the competences presented under co-creation, material suppliers, in form of construction and/or demolition companies capable of providing timber used in temporary construction on construction sites, are needed to realize the idea.
Furthermore, legal aspects and liability associated with the sale of reused materials must be investigated.
We will also be interested in any international experience in similar projects.
What can the CCC programme do for us?
The CCC programme can help build the right partnerships for a commercially strong solution. The CCC programme can help to build and financially support an innovation team across the construction value chain, ranging from material producer through to the consumer. Corporation across the supply chain is inevitable in order to create a future solution for a business-driven reduction of construction waste through circularity.
A six-month-long charged innovation process will provide an incentive to keep focus on creating a business-driven circular solution, by providing mentoring to overcome the many barriers that today prevent circularity in the construction industry.
Furthermore, financial support will fund the detailed investigations of economic potentials, product quantity, product quality, logistical solutions (storage and transport) and potential market for reused construction material.
It is important for the success of this idea, that there will be an effective branding of the solution throughout the value chain. In addition to branding of the solution through channels we have access to today, we believe that the Circular Construction Challenge, with its broad publicity, can be of great help in communicating the solution forward, both to create a market and to communicate the findings of this project to anyone interested in circular thinking in the building sector.