How to Avoid Problems Associated With Recycled Construction Materials

With concern about climate change and environmental quality rising, using recycled materials in home construction might seem like an attractive option. From the walls of new homes to the paving in gardens, almost any materials used in construction projects can be sourced in sustainable recycled ways.

However, the market for recycled building products also carries a risk. Some unscrupulous operators take advantage of environmentally conscious construction companies, bundling contaminated materials in with their products. Here are some common tricks of the trade, and what you should be looking for when you buy recycled construction materials.

Source High-Quality Bricks from Sustainable Sources

There's no shortage of bricks in Australian cities and every week sees home demolitions that release thousands of bricks onto the construction market. If you want to add a historical touch to your home, using aged bricks is an excellent way to do so, but beware of low-quality products. The distressed look of hundred-year old bricks can hide structural flaws, while clay bricks accumulate salts during their lifetime which can make them weaker than newly cast bricks. Always use reputable recycling companies and check for weaknesses before you incorporate reclaimed bricks into your walls.

Use Recycled Aggregate Wisely

Outside projects can also include recycled materials. For example, almost all cement pathways or other structures include aggregates to boost their structural integrity. Diverting aggregates from landfill is a pressing environmental concern. Every year, 44 percent of Australia's landfill waste comes from the construction sector, and this waste would be better used in housing developments.

Recycled aggregates are generally very similar to newly produced varieties, with one major qualification. They usually have a higher porosity level, meaning that they absorb more water. This could be a problem in situations where cement is subject to intense stress, as it also allows salts in rainwater to penetrate deep into the material, breaking it up over time. Always check with your suppliers that they have tested for porosity, or use recycled aggregates in areas where water content is not a major issue.

Check for Contaminated Clean Fill

When home builders need to landscape gardens and raise land for access roads, terraces or paths, they often need to use clean fill, which is usually derived from the soil excavated during other building projects. Using recycled clean fill is a great idea, but there have been many reports of suppliers selling fill that is contaminated with heavy metals, PCBs and other toxins. When this happens, it tends to be the home builder who is stuck with the remediation costs, so try to avoid is if you can. Always check that your supplier is reputable and be sceptical if people approach you with an offer to supply cheap clean fill.

Using recycled materials can drastically reduce the amount of waste Australian construction companies send to landfill, make the sector more efficient and add attractive elements to new projects, but almost no recycled material comes without its unique risks. By paying attention to these risks, you can ensure that every project makes best use of recycled materials without causing any problems. Contact establishments like Eastern Plant Hire for more information.