A circular economy refers to the idea that the economy can be run as a closed loop system, meaning that little to no waste is produced. This is made possible by redesigning processes to ensure they are as efficient as possible and that any waste or by-products are used to create other things. The purpose of a circular economy is to create a sustainable way of doing business.
At the rate that the world is currently using natural resources, we need 3 planet earths to sustain the demand. If Earth’s history was squeezed into 1 year, modern humans would have existed for the last 37 minutes but managed to consume a third of its resources in the last 0.2 seconds.
So what does that mean? Natural resources, like sand, are finite and because of the volume they’re being consumed at we are on course to deplete the world’s supplies of sand by 2030. The construction industry is responsible for the vast majority of virgin sand consumption as it is an essential material for building. In order for the industry to have a future, we need to change the way we use natural resources so it makes sense to switch from virgin to recycled aggregates, design out the waste and find uses for any bi-products.
Using Brewster Bros as an example, we take the waste from construction, demolition and excavation sources that would otherwise go to landfill and we recycle it. This process creates high-quality aggregates as well as some bi-products (mainly clay and organic matter). The recycled aggregates are sold back into the construction, demolition and excavation industries, the organic matter can be composted and reused, and the clay is currently used as an impermeable capping layer to restore our wider site, but we hope to find higher value uses for the clay through our KTP with Heriot-Watt University.