cityscape with circular symbol superimposed above hands to demonstrate the need to make construction part of the circular economy

Mace calls for London to lead world on circular construction

Mace is calling for London to become the circular construction capital of the world.

The report by Mace, released in October 2023 argues that with the right regulatory regime and incentives the industry can deliver big savings in carbon dioxide emissions and cash savings.

Mace argues that across Greater London it could be possible to save more than 13.8m tonnes of construction waste – worth £1.25bn over the next 10 years  – through the adoption of circular economy principles. This would translate to 11m tonnes of CO₂ saved over a decade, which is equivalent to 3.5% of the UK’s annual emissions.

Over a decade, construction and demolition activities generated 1.54m tonnes of identifiable waste in the City of London. That is equivalent to 2.7 tonnes per worker in the City. Of this amount, businesses only recycled 10% of this waste back into construction.

It recommends incentivising circular economy principles to embed them across the building lifecycle.

Closing the Circle

The report ‘Closing the Circle’ claims that the UK capital is the ideal place to build the world’s first true circular construction economy due to its highly innovative construction firms, developers and occupiers helped by planning authorities that are already promoting circularity practices.

It calls for a legislative mandate, and financial incentives like reductions in Section 106 requirements where circular practices are adopted.

A circular construction economy is driven by targeting a reduction in the use of raw materials, and finding new and innovative methods to recycle and directly reuse waste materials where possible.

Other circular construction recommendations

In a bid to reduce the use of virgin materials by ‘reducing, reusing and recycling’ it also recommends:

  • Develop physical and virtual ‘circularity material banks’ that enable smaller firms to take advantage of materials produced elsewhere in the industry.
  • Introduce ‘materials passports’ that track the source of materials within the supply chain and enable easier re-use, an approach that digitally catalogues the materials and components used within a building to promote easier reuse at the end of the buildings’ lifespan.
  • Bring industry and government together to build a credible circularity accreditation scheme to allow clients, investors and contractors to demonstrate the value of their commitment to circularity.

James Low, global Head of Responsible Business at Mace, said: “We must be able to deliver zero embodied carbon buildings and infrastructure within our lifetimes, and we believe that the transition to a circular economy is among the most important innovations and system changes required to achieve that. This requires the entire industry to come together to provide the information, products, construction practices, and behaviours required to realise the potential carbon savings associated with a more circular model in London over the next decade.”

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Further reading – The Business Guide to Sustainable and Circular Procurement – edie has launched a new business guide exploring how firms can embed circular and sustainable approaches and targets into procurement functions and contracts. Read here.