25 June 2019

We must make single-use plastic a thing of the past

Plastic waste remains a chief concern for our planet’s health and, while attempts to reduce its use have intensified, greater efforts must be made to ensure that we reduce our dependence on single-use plastic.

In construction, the reliance on single-use plastic has been drastically declining. Pipes and drains are made out of recyclable plastics, while many insulation materials contain recycled materials and single-use packaging only makes up a third of waste.

However, as an industry, construction is the second largest consumer of plastic behind retail. A proposed change in the law banning some single-use plastics will see a dramatic drop in their use, but the Government must see its role as stimulating investment and opportunity in material sciences and embracing new ways of recycling plastic.

The construction industry is once again at the forefront of this challenge, with an increasing number of projects repurposing ‘single use’ plastic for insulation, new roads and even bricks. Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said:

“From recycled-plastic roads and homes made out of recyclable materials  to waste sorting and on-site recycling, the construction industry is a key player in solving the challenges plastic poses to society and the environment. We now need the Government to think more deeply about how, together, we can find solutions and embed them through best practice and innovative approaches.”