Redrow has reinforced its commitment to reducing the impact it has on the environment with the start of its ‘Reduce the Rubble’ initiative, becoming the first national housebuilder to undertake a waste project of this calibre at this scale.
The construction industry is the UK’s largest user of natural resources and produces 100 million tonnes of waste per year – more than one-third of the UK’s annual waste, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Of this annual total, a 2019 Redrow-commissioned report found that, on average, 10 tonnes of waste was produced for each typical house type Redrow built – the equivalent weight of nine Mini Cooper cars.
Redrow has already made progress with its waste reduction initiative, with the housebuilder’s latest figures reporting that 97% of all its materials were re-used and diverted from landfill in 2019-20.
Redrow’s project will allow the business to continue to improve upon these figures by understanding the type and volume of additional material being produced in the construction of a Redrow ‘Oxford’ house-type. The ‘Oxford’ is one of the housebuilder’s most popular house types and is a detached, four-bedroom family home, typical of many of Redrow’s Heritage Collection homes.
Reducing the Rubble
The project is taking place at three Redrow developments; Langley Grange in Yorkshire, Ebbsfleet Green in the South East, and The Brooks in Lancashire, and will analyse the waste generated from building a single Redrow home by collecting information and data on key materials such as bricks, concrete, cardboard and plastic packaging. The main objectives are to understand what causes the waste and identify how Redrow can either recycle or reduce this waste during the procurement, design and construction stages. The waste generated during the build of three separate homes will be monitored and stored safely until all homes are complete.
The findings could result in significant changes being made to the design of the ‘Oxford’ house-type and additional products across Redrow’s range to help reduce waste but also impact the way in which Redrow’s construction teams think about waste. An informal survey of those working on the Reduce the Rubble project found that 96% are now also actively working to reduce the amount of waste they create outside of the workplace. Since the project started, more than half (53%) have also started sharing their recommendations on how materials can be better recycled or re-used with key members of their teams.
Resource inefficiency is a major source of emissions, but this is often overlooked in companies’ responses to climate change. Therefore, this initiative will allow Redrow to tackle the emissions generated from the building lifecycle, helping to lower materials and disposal costs, and further minimise the chance of on-site accidents as a result of superfluous materials on site.
This programme is just one of the ways the company is looking to meet its 2022 target to reduce the carbon intensity of its construction operations and offices by 10%, and follows Redrow’s commitment to reusing waste products where possible.
Changing consumer attitudes to waste reduction
Environmental issues, and the reduction of waste specifically, are an increasingly important focus within UK and global businesses, with homeowners becoming far more considered with their buying preferences. For example, Redrow’s research found that 64% of consumers are more likely to, or exclusively, purchase from a company that is actively looking to, or has already, reduced the waste it produces (see table 1).
16% of these respondents are currently trying to only purchase from waste-conscious companies, with this figure increasing to 25% when focusing on the younger generation of 18 to 34-year-olds.
The research, which investigated the views of 2,000 UK consumers on their attitudes towards waste reduction, also found that over the last three years 64% of consumers believe they have become more aware of the waste produced by the companies they buy from, while two thirds (66%) are more aware of the waste they personally produce (see table 2).
When asked to best describe their behaviour towards waste, only 15% of respondents said they are not actively working to reduce the amount of waste they produce. Three in ten claimed to have already made a lot of changes to their behaviour, while more than half (54%) said they have already made some changes. Only 12% of Londoners surveyed are currently not looking to reduce the amount of waste they produce, with 37% of those in located in the Capital claiming they have already made a lot of changes to their behaviour (see table 3).
Will Heath, Group Development Director at Redrow, comments: “Building our homes in an environmentally responsible way has long been a priority for Redrow. Not only are we working with leading charities such as The Wildlife Trusts and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to ensure that our new developments contribute to the wellbeing of both the people living there and the local wildlife, but we have also set ourselves stringent waste reduction targets to reach by 2022.
“With our research showing that 64% of consumers are more likely to, or exclusively, purchase from a company which is committed to reducing waste, it’s more important than ever that housebuilders take sustainability and waste reduction seriously. A key part of this is understanding a product’s lifecycle and what specific elements of a home can be developed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Our ‘Reduce the Rubble’ project will help us achieve this and will provide us with valuable research that will benefit our business, both in terms of costs and employee safety, but also, importantly, our environment.”
The report findings are expected to be published in Q1 2021.