Transition to circular economy
Zero waste to landfill by 2030
Recycle and reuse over 70 million tonnes of other industries waste and resources in our processes and products by 2030
Reduce water consumption by 25% per tonne of product by 2030
Collaborate to enable material efficiency in project design and delivery
“We’re committed to working towards achieving a circular economy and our approach to this starts with designing out waste wherever we possibly can across our operations.”
Garry Gregory, packed products director at Tarmac
Adopting the concept of the circular economy allows a focus on designing out waste from every stage of a product’s life cycle and extending its useful life. The transition to a circular economy requires collaboration across the construction value chain, eliminating waste from our operations, recycling materials from other industries and identifying opportunities to conserve water.
Designing out waste
For Tarmac, supporting a circular economy means designing out waste at every stage of a product’s lifecycle, and developing products with greater durability, extending their useful life. We work to design long-lasting products that can be reused at their end of life, to reduce waste and demand for natural resources, and ensure that the essential materials we need to supply our customers remain available.
Tarmac is a leading supplier of recycled aggregates, and we have developed a range of recycled solutions that reduce waste, preserve mineral resources and reduce the carbon footprint of our products. We have been recycling asphalt for more than 30 years. This has increased significantly in the past few years thanks to improvements in technology. We also offer recycled sand and single size aggregates for use in a variety of drainage and bedding applications.
Using recycled materials
Tarmac is a net user of waste. This means we re-use more waste generated by other people than the volume of waste we produce.
Waste materials and by-products from other sectors serve as valuable fuels or raw materials to replace all, or a portion of, the virgin materials used in our products. We are leading the way in recycling old road surfaces into asphalt products that we can use on new roads. In 2022, we used over 1 million tonnes of recycled asphalt planings (RAP) in our asphalt products. This represents 15% of our total asphalt production.
In addition, we use large quantities of waste and by-products from the metalworking, steelmaking and power industries as additions to our concrete and blocks (for example, ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS), ashes, or foundry sand).
In 2022, we used over 7.1 million tonnes of waste and secondary materials from other sectors as alternative raw materials for our products and as alternative fuel in the manufacturing process, helping us to progress to our goal of recycling and reusing over 70 million tonnes of waste from other industries by 2030. In 2022, we recycled 99% of the waste generated across our operations and sent around 15,000 tonnes of waste to landfill.
tonnes of RAP used
Our recovery business has developed a range of innovative recycled solutions that not only reduce waste, but that actively contribute to improved circular economy and closed loop recycling. We recycle construction, demolition and excavation (CD&E) waste to produce recycled aggregates and restore our sites. In 2022, we used over 3.75 million tonnes of construction waste in our recovery and recycling operations.
This material from construction projects helps to restore our quarries and bring the land back into beneficial use for people or wildlife. This allows us to create a whole new second life for the material we process or recover. We used over 2 million tonnes of CD&E waste at seven of our sites in 2022.
Across the UK, we currently have a capacity of over 800,000 tonnes for recycling construction recovery. By carefully reprocessing clean inert construction waste we can manufacture a range of certified materials to feed into new construction projects.
Using waste as a fuel
In addition to using waste from other industries as constituents of our products, we also use it as fuel to manufacture them. This reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfill and lowers the carbon emissions from our fuels. In 2022, we made use of over 100,000 tonnes of waste-derived fuel, representing 34.5% of the entire thermal input required in our cement business.
Minimising packaging waste
Most of Tarmac’s products are delivered in bulk with no packaging, which means we use relatively small amounts of packaging. However, where we do use packaging, we try to minimise it.
In February 2022, we completed a trial for 30% recycled bulk bags, in addition to the 50% recycled plastic already used in our Blue Circle cement bags. We use around 453,000 bulk bags every year, and this switch to 30% recycled bulk bags could reduce our virgin plastic use by 171 tonnes each year. The bags specification was also reviewed to remove loops and reduce the height. These changes make additional savings in the amount of packaging we use.
In November 2022, Tarmac signed a charter produced by The Pallet LOOP – an innovative scheme aimed at minimising the consumption of single-use delivery pallets in the construction industry. The Pallet LOOP operates using a returnable pallet charge that incentivises re-use. By attaching a value to the pallet, which is refunded at the point of return, The Pallet LOOP provides a financial motivation for individuals and companies to put pallets back into the LOOP, rather than skipping or scrapping them after just one use.
Water is central to Tarmac’s operations. In 2022, across our business, we used a total of 23.7 million cubic metres of water. We aim to reduce water consumption by 25% per tonne of product by 2030, compared to our 2020 figures. That’s a target that we’ll only achieve by focusing on every aspect of our water usage, from small behaviour changes like turning taps off in offices, to finding new, innovative water efficiency processes in the production of our materials.
As an example of something we’re doing now, our Agecroft laboratory uses the nearby railhead roof to harvest rainwater to wash aggregate samples. The water used will then go through a sump tank to be filtered before it is then transferred back into the tank. The tank can then be drawn upon if the rainwater runs out.
Of the total 23.7 million cubic metres of water we used in 2022, 17.5 million cubic metres was abstracted from quarry, ground and surface water sources, 2.1 million cubic metres from potable water supply, and around 3.9 million cubic metres from recycled, harvested and grey water systems.
It is important that we continue to move towards a circular economy through our products and operations. To do this, we will continue to review opportunities to optimise our use of recycled materials in our products and our packaging. We will continue to optimise recycling of construction and demolition waste at sites we’re restoring, and review opportunities to further optimise the use of recycled materials in our products. We plan to extend our beneficial use of waste derived fuels in cement manufacturing. We will sharpen our focus on our water use.