The latest statistics from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reveal that the UK recycling rate for ‘waste from households’ fell from 44.9 per cent in 2014 to 44.3 per cent in 2015.
The map below illustrates which local authorities in England recycled a higher percentage of their household waste in 2015/16 than in 2014/15, and which didn't.
The statistics from DEFRA reveal that the ‘waste from households’ recycling rate for England has dropped from 44.8 per cent in 2014 to 43.9 per cent in 2015, or 9.8 million tonnes. This is the first time that the recycling rate has fallen below 44 per cent since 2011.
There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50 per cent of household waste by 2020.
While England adds the largest contribution to the UK recycling rate, other nations saw a year-on-year increase. The ‘waste from households’ recycling rate for Wales has increased from 54.8 per cent in 2014 to 55.8 per cent in 2015; and Scotland has also raised its household recycling rate from 41 per cent in 2014 to 42 per cent in 2015.
Northern Ireland follows the nationwide downwards trend, recycling 42.5 per cent in 2014 compared to 42 per cent in 2015.
At EnviroBuild, we believe that the lack of comprehensive UK wide policy results in a mish-mash of council schemes that generate huge confusion in the population. However, we also recognise that some councils are bucking the trend, showing it should be possible.
Research has continually shown that generally people don't know how to sort their recycling pre-collection, why it's important to sort and what materials can actually be recycled. A more comprehensive education system would help increase the rates closer to those seen in our European neighbours.
"This hasn't been helped by a lack of policy intervention and a decrease in commodity prices through 2015, and is part of a wider plateau in recycling rates since about 2011”.
In its England-specific report Defra said: “In 2015 the decrease in the ‘waste from households’ recycling rate was driven by a 4.8 per cent fall in ‘organic recycling’ set against unusually high figures for 2014, particularly for January to March 2015 and April to June 2015 compared to the same quarters in 2014".
“There was a smaller decrease of 1.1 per cent in the amount of dry recycling in 2015 compared to 2014".
The UK is recycling less, but it is also creating less household waste. The government data for England also shows that the waste from households totalled 22.2 million tonnes in 2015, or 407kg per person, a decrease of 0.6 per cent on 2014 but very close to the three year average of 409 kg per person for 2012 to 2014.
The UK’s waste management sector continues to face a number of obstacles that were a result of the recession and austerity driven cuts. Local authorities responsible for recycling have faced budget cuts and the government’s main body for increasing recycling and cutting waste, WRAP, has seen its budget cut from £37.7m in 2011 to £17.9m in 2014.
Figures released this week by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs revealed that for the first time the percentage of household waste being recycled has declined. With the government aiming to increase recycling levels to 50% by 2020 this step backwards is an unwanted set back.
There are two main reasons why recycling is declining, confusion and contamination. Biffa Municipal's managing director Roger Edwards said "Contamination can cause entire lorry-loads of recyclables to be rejected, at high cost to already-stretched councils." By not correctly washing out your milk bottles or Coke cans you could be responsible for whole lorries full of recyclable material being dumped in landfills or burnt in incinerators. Many U.K residents are unaware of what they can and can’t recycle. Add to this the fact that most local councils have different recycling policies and will accept or reject different materials you can see why so many people are confused.
David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK has been the leading voice in calling for change. He is calling for a “polluter pays” policy which would see manufacturers taxed according to the amount of non-recyclable materials used in consumer goods with the cost being passed onto the customer. Palmer-Jones claims that "The tax would help pay for better household collection of recyclables and help address the huge funding challenge that local government faces."
Aidan Bell Director of EnviroBuild believes that "the current recycling system is unnecessarily complicated and is causing an important service to fail." He agrees that "changes needed to be made to make the system simpler and wants to see a blanket policy across the whole country."
Time to test your recycling knowledge.
Which of the following do you think are recyclable?
Yes: (but check your individual council's policy as they vary)
Paper: cardboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, envelopes, junk mail, food and drink cartons including Tetra Pak
Plastic: margarine and ice cream tubs, yogurt pots, fruit punnets and ready meal trays
Bottles: drink, shampoo and detergent bottles
Tins and cans: both steel and aluminium, as well as aerosols
Kitchen foil and foil trays
Glass: all colours but no broken glass or ovenware
Tissue and kitchen roll
Plastic wrap, cling film, bubble wrap and plastic bags
Plastic and paper contaminated with food - including grease-stained pizza boxes and paper food plates
Crisp packets and sweet wrappers
Soft plastic / metallic packaging like pet food pouches
At EnviroBuild we focus on only using recycled products, from our little fastener clips to our 4m decking boards. One of the products which is particularly interesting is our Manticore Plastic Lumber which is made from 100% recycled plastic. It is made from plastics which are traditionally very hard to recycle and therefore end up in landfills. They use plastics such as HDPE, LDPE, PET, PVC and polypropylene to form a non-absorbing and weather proof material that has a lifetime that lasts over a millennia that can be used in a variety of construction and DIY scenarios.
We donate 10% of our profits every year in an effort to offset the carbon footprint of our production process. By only using recycled woods and recycled plastic to fabricate the decking board and by supporting charities that protect important rainforest we hope to be an as ethical decking product as possible. In April last year we were able to help Rainforest Trust purchase 101 Acres of key rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra as part of their project aiming at saving the Sumatran Rhino. In total Rainforest Trust were able to purchase 184,795 acres in the Aceh province, the only province in the world where you can still find the Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sumatran Orangutan, Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran Tiger.
The Leuser Ecosystem
An impressive 6.5 million acres of once pristine lowland forests, cloud shrouded mountains and carbon rich peat bogs. This diversity of landscapes means that is one of the most biodiverse areas ever recorded, an incredible 130 species of mammals, that’s 1 in 32 of the world’s mammals, call this expanse of forest home! You can also find 382 species of birds including hornbills, hawks, falcons, eagles and owls and 95 reptiles and amphibians such as king cobras, pythons and monitor lizards. But it is not only rich with fauna, perhaps two of its most impressive residents are World Record holders. The Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower and the Amorphophallus the world’s tallest plant thrive in this endangered ecosystem. Aceh is not only vibrant with wildlife it also supports 4 million people who mostly live in coastal areas living subsistent lives growing rice.
The Leuser Ecosystem Endangered Species
There are fewer than 6,600 individual Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, and about 75 percent of the world’s remaining population live in the Leuser Ecosystem. Some of which were successfully reintroduced after being rescued from the illegal pet trade.
Less than 100 individual Sumatran rhinos remain in the wild.
41 percent of tiger habitat has been lost in the last 10 years. Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with fewer than 400 believed to remain in the wild, a large proportion of which live in the Leuser Ecosystem.
Much of Sumatra’s remaining forests consist of areas smaller than 100 square miles—too small for viable elephant populations—however, the forests in the Leuser region are still large enough to support multiple elephant herds.
Also provides shelter for the endangered Clouded Leopard, Sun bears and Marbled Cat.
The critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill has been documented in the province.
The Economic and Global Importance of The Leuser Ecosystem
Astonishingly it is not its high levels of biodiversity that cause it be valued at $US 400 million per year. It is instead the ecological services it provides both on a local and global scale. It is thought that the province stores over 1.6 billion tons of carbon, most of which is stored in peat bogs. The peat bogs and forests also provide protection to local communities from natural disasters such as fires, floods, droughts and landslides. All of which results in not only economic loss due to damage to agriculture but also the loss of hundreds of lives each year, which will only increase each year as the destruction and degradation continues. Not only does it protect the 4 million residents but it also a source of clean water, irrigation for their agriculture and a sustainable food resources such as fish. Many of these people have lived in the region for generations and each community has their own unique cultural heritage.
Inconceivable this area of both natural beauty of importance is rapidly disappearing. The biggest driving is the skyrocketing global demand for palm oil, a product that is found in vast amounts of processed food, health and beauty products and cleaning products such as ice cream, cookies, frozen meals and lipstick. Vast swathes of forest have been cut down and replaced with endless rows of monoculture plantation, many of which have been planted illegally. The unchecked industrial development of mining as well as pulp and paper plantations and the increase in illegal logging and poaching have all helped to create a perfect storm of degradation.
The Effects of Lost Rainforest
The loss of jungle doesn’t only have to impact those directly living in the area, it has worldwide repercussions.
This destruction of naturally occurring jungle dramatically changes the landscape. The peat becomes dried out and highly flammable, the resulting fires send up giant plumes of CO2 which annually can exceed the amount of fossil fuel emissions emitted by all of Western Europe!
The extinction of wildlife and the degradation of soil quality will ultimately make it impossible to restore.
Changes to the water cycle will lead to a decline in agricultural productivity and fish stocks as the water supply becomes more erratic.
More frequent and hard hitting natural disasters leading to an increase in loss of live and agriculture.
No longer being able to profit from the preservation values of the forest such as ecotourism and carbon trading.
What is the Rainforest Trust doing
The Rainforest Trust is working with a local partner to purchase private properties in the Kluet Watershed in strategically important locations and thereby blocking key access points into the proposed Gunug Leuser National park. In buying these properties one of the area’s most important watershed areas can now become the 184,795 acre Kluet Wildlife Reserve. The reserve will act as a buffer zone for the National Park, creating a natural barrier that will help to keep out perpetrators of illegal logging and poaching. By halting access to the National Park and preventing further unsustainable exploitation will help ensure the survival of the Sumatran Rhino, Sumatran Orangutan, Sumatran Elephant, Sumatran Tiger as well as the other species found in the region. To ensure that the newly created Kluet Wildlife Reserve is properly protected Rainforest Trust will employ a well-equipped and highly trained team of rangers that will regularly patrol the reserve to protect it from illegal activity. Rainforest Trust will also construct guard stations throughout the reserve making it easier and more efficient to patrol the entire 184,795 acres of the reserve.
What can You do to Help
Avoid purchasing products that use palm oil from unsustainable plantations.
Buy products that use recycled wood to reduce the need for logging.
Building your composite deck from scratch might seem a quite demanding task to execute, but with this easy-to-follow installation guide you will soon be enjoying your great outdoors worry-free.
Step 1: Preparation of the Deck
Power mitre or circular saw (40 tooth blade preferably)
Hand Drill 3mm and countersink drill bits (can use all-in-one smart bit)
Impact driver (Use T15 secure drill bit supplied in all Hyperion hidden fastening packs, use low torque setting)
Safety Glasses and relevant Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
The height of the decking will be determined by the depth of your balcony. Your deck should be neither lower than the tip of your balcony, nor exceeding it. Accordingly, the depth of your terrace will determine the type of pedestals and substructure that needs to be fitted underneath the deck. Should you have any questions, give us a ring at (0) 208 088 4888.
It is recommended that you add approx. 5% to the total material required for a wastage factor. It is unlikely you will use the board lengths perfectly on your balcony.
If you are attaching the boards on your balcony at an angle (diagonal to joists), you will likely generate more scrap from cutting; in that case, it is recommended that you add 15% extra material.
We recommend that the correct-sized pilot holes are pre-drilled before screwing into all composite products to avoid splitting. The length of the hole must be at least the same length of the screw.
you leave a min. 20mm gap when your deck abuts walls or other fixed objects.
decking boards do not overhang joists by more than 20mm.
there is a deck slope of min. 5mm per meter towards a drainage area.
the deck is not laid directly onto any surfaces, and that you leave at least 50mm beneath the deck for air circulation.
you measure twice, cut once!
Step 2: Building the Deck Sub-structure
Recycled plastic supports (pedestals) whose height is adjustable
Lay the joists on top of the pedestals. Ensure that:
the distance between the joists is no more than 300mm apart for the Pioneer range, and 400mm apart for the Frontier range.
you have doubled up joists for butt joints across the deck.
each joist must be supported in a minimum of 3 places. Specifically, joists need to be supported to the following maximum spans: - 50 x 50 mm profile at max. 500 mm intervals - 50 x 100 mm profile at max. 750 mm intervals - 50 x 150 mm profile at max. 1500 mm intervals.
the joists do not overhang a support by more than 50mm.
the deck boards run perpendicular to the joists.
Screw down the joist cradles to the plastic lumber (make sure to leave an expansion gap of 6mm between the joists).
Adjust the height of the pedestals accordingly, making sure that each of them supports the joist.This can be most easily achieved by setting out each end, and then extending the pedestal until it is touching the joist. The joist shouldn't bounce over a pedestal at all.
Step 3: Laying the Deck
Screw down the starter fasteners into the outside edge of the outer joist.
Slide the first decking board towards the clips and secure. Decking boards should be gapped min. 3mm side to side. This is dictated by the size of the clip that you use, and doesn't need to be measured.
Tilt up the decking board slightly & screw down the fastener. Insert one hidden fastener at each joist. The hidden fasteners shown leave a 6mm gap between the decking boards.
Install the second row of decking boards. In any row where butt joints are required, make sure to leave an 8mm expansion gap. Failure to leave a gap can result in undue strain on the decking boards as they try to expand, and potentially eventually splitting. Always use one fastener per decking board at butt joints.
Screw down the second hidden fastener, in order to secure the second row of decking boards.
Return to tighten up the first row of decking boards.
Repeat for the rest of the decking boards, up to the last two boards.
Attach the hidden starter fasteners securely to the end joist for the last decking board, and then place the penultimate board.
Slide the fastener between the last and the second to last decking board over the joist, and screw down.
Step 4: Finishing the Deck
Screw the fascia board to the joists, in order to hide the grooved decking edge.
Add any corner trims (provided only for the Pioneer range).
And that’s it. More detailed guidelines could be found here, and you could also watch the EnviroBuild decking tutorial video here.
NASA data shows the first six months of 2016 were globally the hottest on record, with each month setting its own respective record. A list of American scientific organisations and a worldwide list of scientific organisations that agree climate change is a result of human activity shows the scientific consensus is overwhelming.
However an IPSOS survey shows only 54% of Americans believe that climate change is the result of human activity. The lowest of any of their surveyed countries!
Sadly the reporting of statistics within the mainstream media is poor and the general populations understanding of complex scientific issues is always going to be low.
At EnviroBuild, we hope XKCD’s graphic showing the data simply, comically and graphically, might swing a few more people around and force governments to make the actions they’re currently too slow to make! Share away!
Although EnviroBuild do not offer an installation service itself, we do have a growing network of professional installers who we will happily recommend for your project. All you have to do is ask and we will put you in touch.
Our network of installers is thoroughly vetted to give you the best possible access to reliable third-parties through which you can work out terms of contract for the installation of your EnviroBuild products.
Can I find my own installer?
It is entirely up to you as to who you choose to install your project. Even though we will happily pass the details of our recommended installers onto you, you are by no means obligated to enter into any agreement with them. If you wish to use an installer you have found yourself that’s entirely your choice.
We do urge you to thoroughly check the credentials of any installer you are considering. The easiest way to do this is to choose an installer who comes previously recommended by a family or friend. This means you are easily able to check on previous work they have fulfilled and get a real understanding of their overall professionalism from the person(s) who recommended them.
Another great way of finding good installers is to check their rating on websites similar to checkatrade.com. Most tradesmen can be found on such websites and are rated according to previous works. This will give you a fair indication of how well they are likely to perform on your job. These sites allow you to see all the company credentials, background checks and services, as well as reviews left by previous customers. Each company is rated out of 10 (by previous clients) and are given an average score overall which is again a great indication of how reliable, honest and recommended the company is viewed.
Although these sorts of sites are fantastic at checking credentials for tradesman, EnviroBuild always urge you to do your own research into any third party installer or company that you are thinking of using for your project.
When considering any composite decking project it is highly likely that you are going to have to make some adjustments to your lengths of board. We know that there are literally thousands of tools out there so we thought we would help you understand how to choose the right saw blade for cutting our products. This blog post will break down the various attributes for the appropriate saw-blade and why we recommend them for your fine cuts.
The EnviroBuild installation manual advises the use of a circular saw using a 40 tooth alternate top bevel finish blade. The amount of teeth on the blade is important to the speed and accuracy of the cut. A blade with a lower tooth count will cut faster but with a rougher finish. Alternatively, the higher the tooth-count on the blade the slower the cut but the more accurate it will be. With this in mind, if you choose a blade with a tooth count that is too high then you run the risk of the cut being to slow and burning the material you are cutting. This may be problematical with composite materials with a high level of plastic. EnviroBuild recommend the 40 tooth blade as it is quick enough to not burn the material yet it has enough to make accurate cuts.
The alternate top bevel finish blade refers to the tooth configuration on the blade. In this instance this specific configuration makes the angle of the teeth useful for cutting material like our composite boards, natural wood or veneered plywood.
Most of the major manufacturers will make what appears to be a similar blade, but the price will range from a few pounds up to just under £100 in the same way that the quality will differ. The design, amount or carbide and the quality of carbide used in the blade is what primarily influences the cost.
EnviroBuild recommends going for one of the more well-known makes such as DeWalt, Bosch or Titan as the blades tend to keep it’s sharpness for a longer period hopefully ensuring that you will only require 1 or 2 blades for your project (depending on project size).
There’s been a bit of a buzz around the new composite decking technology that’s started appearing everywhere. So in this blog I’ll be explaining what it’s all about and why it could be a great choice for your outdoor space.
So what is composite decking?
Composite decking sometimes also referred to as Plastic decking and WPC decking is decking that is usually made out of a composition of wood and plastic, there are also different varieties such as decking made purely out of plastic. This plastic content gives the deck boards a very long lifespan without the need to treat or seal the decking over its life, the decking has on average a 1% water absorption rate. While the wood content allows the decking to retain that wonderful tactile feeling you get when touching wood.
How is it better than normal wood decking?
Composite decking can offer many benefits over traditional wood products, I will discuss the environmental benefits in a moment, but now I’ll highlight the stand out features. The no.1 question that anyone in the decking industry is asked is “how slippery the decking is in the wet?” (even though decking is rarely used in the rain!). As each board can be essentially moulded to a specific shape and texture, the majority of products on offer have a ‘non-slip’ grain embedded in the board surface, making them extremely safe to walk on in the wet, with most boards having a ‘low slip potential’ based on the BS7976 - 2: 2002 Standard (although this high level of slip resistance is not offered by every manufacturer). Another safety feature of composite decking is that it doesn’t splinter, due to the granular composition this makes the boards both very tough and it will never create long piercing shards, this is great especially for families with young children.
Going beyond safety, the looks that can be achieved with composite decking can range from very sleek and modern to a warm natural appearance. The real benefit being that this look will remain the same year after year without the need to treat and re-stain the deck every spring, that job every deck owner dreads!
Real environmental benefits
If you look at both softwood and hardwood options, both require trees and habitats to be cleared, it’s not always that easy to ensure they come from sustainably managed forests. Hardwood of which is very difficult to truly have a sustainable source due to the usual long length of time required to grow trees of sufficient size, a lot are imported from the tropics which are currently being devastated by logging and farming. In addition, softwood initially needs chemical treating to ensure an extended life span, as well as both kinds needing annual treatment, where the chemicals can leech into the surroundings.
There are some composite decking manufactures that use virgin material in their composite decking and ‘green wash’ that they are environmentally friendly because you don’t need to use harmful chemicals treating standard wood every year……this low maintenance solution, however, is true of all composite decking. But the only real sustainable proposition is from composite decking that is made from recycled plastic and recycled wood. Using household plastic waste and reclaimed sawdust and offcuts, the mixture is ground down and combined under heat and pressure to form the decking products. This process does require energy, but by saving tonnes of waste from going into landfill and turning it into a long life product that can be recycled again is a fantastic solution.
There are even some companies that go even further by donating their proceeds to sustainable causes; you are actually helping to save the world by using this decking!
Is it easy to install?
I hear you say….. Yes! The material can be worked and cut with standard wood working tools and some manufacturers offer boards that come with ‘hidden fixings’. A groove is designed into side the edges of each board and a hidden clip uses this to hold the boards firmly down onto the joists under the deck. This reduces the need to perfectly line up all those surface screws, which also tend to collect a lot of dirt over time and become key points of wood degradation. This smart innovation, along with other complimentary accessories, makes the decking just as easy to take up as it is to put down.
There is one other consideration when you look to install a composite deck, there are also composite joists offered by some manufacturers. These are made with the same composition as the deck boards and thus have the same anti-rotting properties, which can extend the life of your deck even further.
How creative can you be with composite decking?
As you can work composite decking like wood, you can create just as complex designs, plus you have the added benefit that most composite boards come in varying colours. This means you can mix up the colours, perhaps using a different colour to highlight your deck features, such as edges and steps; it can be a great design detail.
So how much does it cost?
The big question. Due to the fact that these products never need to be treated the life cost becomes far less than traditional wood, even if it starts out higher. Most in fact tend to be cheaper than the expensive hardwood options, even having designed lifespans beyond wood products.
There are a variety of composite deck boards on the market and I’d like to go over the 3 main options available with their corresponding benefits and costs:
Firstly there is a structured type of board (also called honeycomb or hollow), this has a lattice structure looking at the cross section of the board, which helps keep the weight and thus the price down, all while retaining a very stiff and durable load bearing construction. The prices can vary from £25 to £45 per square meter (exc. Vat), and in this range we would always recommend getting a good quality board from a supplier that offers a long warranty on their products.
The mid-priced option are solid boards with similar surface finishes as per above, which can be good for high traffic and heavier load areas. There are a few different varieties of these available, where some have harder wearing surfaces then others; usually you get what you pay for. The average cost range for these is between £40 and £60 per square meter (exc. Vat).
Finally, there is a 'capped' solid board, which has an outer layer made with a higher plastic content and makes the board surface much harder wearing. These boards are highly engineered and styled to have a great feel and aesthetic, with the added durability benefit. The price range for these is more comparable to hardwood, between £50 and £90 per square meter (exc. Vat).