Life is all about making decisions.
I made a good decision to attend Circular North-east's launch event targetting the construction sector in Aberdeen and shire.
I admit, however, that it was a close call. I could have done with those 3 hours in the office. I'm sure I could read about the event later and get up to speed. If there's anything important I need to know, someone will tell me. If there's something important to be done, I'm sure someone else will step up and do it. And I'd have the satisfaction of knowing those tasks on today's to do list had been done.
All perfectly reasonable excuses — whether used for attending an event like this one or, say, engaging in the "how" of tackling the climate crisis. I'm no climate change expert (or practitioner), but what I do want to be is informed. That's why my good decision today paid dividends: by attending the excellent opening debate on how to create a resilient and circular construction sector.
Representatives from Zero Waste Scotland flagged the circular economy principles applicable at each stage from planning (minimise impact on infrastructure), design (use less embodied carbon), construction (waste management forecasting/learn from the manufacturing industry), and deconstruction (pre-demolition audits; value and market for deconstructed materials).
Aberdeenshire Council used as an illustration its project to get more from the same in terms of office space, which includes upcycling existing furniture and ensuring local business involvement in upcycling procurement.
Major contractors such as Balfour Beatty and Robertson shared examples including a "supply chain sustainability school" and digital platforms such as Bravo and SmartWaste to track, record and manage waste.
There's no doubt that turning the rhetoric into reality is a challenge, but forums like this event are invaluable. And, similar to the best way to eat an elephant, small incremental changes are most likely to be what delivers in the long term. A concept as simple as providing a free access, open platform for disposal of waste (think Amazon for left-over bricks) could have a real impact not just economically but culturally. After all, one man's rubbish is another man's treasure.
The construction industry produces 40% of Scotland’s carbon emissions, contributes to 50% of the country’s waste and consumes 50% of resources.