Scottish infrastructure leaders call time on construction’s ‘take-make-waste’ culture

Infrastructure projects in Scotland should now be built using less new materials and significantly more secondary and recycled materials as the first choice, say some of the sector’s biggest leaders.

The Scottish Infrastructure Circular Economy Forum (SICEF), convened by AECOM together with Scotland’s key infrastructure owners and operators, has called time on what it describes as the sector’s ‘take-make-waste’ culture.

It says that instead of automatically building with virgin materials, the infrastructure sector should now begin a concerted drive to use less materials and instead use materials that are recycled or from secondary sources.

SICEF chair and AECOM sustainability director Robert Spencer said: “As we embark on the climate decade with all eyes on industry taking a leadership role in decarbonising our economies, the re-use of materials will decrease the carbon footprint of construction and reduce negative impacts on the environment and communities.

The circular economy provides a compelling model for reducing emissions and stewarding critical resources

“The circular economy provides a compelling model for reducing emissions and stewarding critical resources. This is particularly the case in Scotland with its ambitious target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045 together with the low carbon agenda set out in the National Infrastructure Mission.”

The call to action has been made in SICEF’s inaugural White Paper for the sector.

SICEF believes now is the time to put in the right framework conditions to accelerate a recycled and secondary raw materials market.

There are three different elements coming together to provide this catalyst: public sector policies increasingly supporting the circular economy, financial investors in infrastructure wanting to see increasingly sustainable practices, and technology enabling businesses to better track and monitor use of materials and their suitability.

Scotland is seen as one of the countries stepping up to a leadership role in the circular economy by the SICEF, which believes a fully circular economy in Scotland can be achieved by 2030.

Alex Sutton, sustainability officer at SSEN Transmission said: “Building a circular economy is an important step in the wider transition towards Net Zero.

Investment in Scottish infrastructure will be a critical part of this transition and in the post-Covid economic recovery, this is our chance to build back better by addressing sustainable resource use in infrastructure.

“The new SICEF White Paper provides a clear signal to policymakers and supply chains on the areas in which SSEN Transmission and other Scottish infrastructure providers seek collaboration in order to advance the circular economy.”

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