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With architects and developers increasingly mindful to do everything within their powers to credit the BREEAM rating of a project, it’s fair to say that every per cent counts. Building suppliers can make a difference to those figures (and their own bottom line) simply by increasing the percentage of recycled and recyclable content in their products. Growing demand for recycled building materials has increased the value of recovered materials.


The construction sector has the potential to use much more recovered material – if all products could be supplied with a “good practice” level of recycled content instead of base level/common practice the resulting increase in demand would mean huge gains for materials such as aggregates, cement, concrete, bricks, blocks and plasterboard. The key for the supplier market is to increase recycled content and maintain the technical performance of their products. For decades neaco have been setting higher targets each year for the recycled content of our manufacturing output and in 2012 we set a minimum figure of 85 per cent for all of our aluminium balustrade and open grille products. In many cases we are now supplying complete design solutions from as much as 95 per cent recycled material. In years to come we hope to achieve close to that figure across the vast majority of our production.


In seeking sustainable procurement, designers and specifiers need to select designs and products suited to their particular application and calculate their use of recycled content accordingly. They should also consult with their suppliers to verify that product options meet necessary performance requirements. Ideally the supplier should provide some form of certification which confirms of the recycled content of its products.


Dismantling and recycling or reuse of building components is one of the building performance criteria outlined in BREEAM. Every material has its own degree of recyclability. At neaco, much of our product portfolio is manufactured from aluminium alloy which offers a natural advantage as it is up to 100 per cent recyclable. We’ve maximised the benefits of this characteristic within our Genesis  industrial handrail and balustrade system (pictured below) which is fully recyclable and corrosion-free.


There is certainly an advantage to using suppliers who provide pre-engineered modular systems, as opposed to building products partly or fully fabricated on-site, where processes are less controlled and many perfectly recyclable remnants can end up as landfill. By contrast, suppliers which complete all manufacturing at the factory stage can recover off-cuts and convert what could have become waste into future raw material. At neaco, our balustrade, balcony and aluminium open grille systems are pre-engineered in-house and delivered on-site as modular components which provide easy connection and assembly on-site without messy processes such as welding. It means zero waste and low-energy construction – two benefits that serve the need for responsible construction practices and site impacts promoted by BREEAM.


Architects and developers across the globe are buying into the value of BREEAM. If more manufacturers do the same, the results are sure to benefit everyone.