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Recycling Ceramic Tile Samples (Blog) G#55

By 2 June 2015October 8th, 20172015, Archive, Blog, News

GBE > Blog > G#55

Recycling Ceramic Tile Samples Blog

Recycling Ceramic Tile Samples Blog

We recently received the following question (the enquirer remains anonymous, because it might be a bit embarrassing).

Q: Ceramic tile sample recycling?
• Do you know of any depots that collect unused ceramic tile samples?
• As an architectural practice, we get lots of samples and companies are often very reluctant to pick up samples once the job is complete or if the sample is redundant.
• This seems a huge waste (especially for any re-use enthusiasts!) and I am keen not to throw the tiles into landfill.
• I’d appreciate any advice you can give me.

I often have to ask offices if they are recycling. They show me the waste bins labeled recycling. I have to point out that this is only waste segregation and that they have to be buying recycled materials for the loop to be closed before they can claim that they are recycling.

If the answer is no, we don’t use recycled paper, then I question that as well. Is that because they feel it’s inferior? Do you think that some other kind of person has to use recycled so you don’t? Are they ‘hippy-types’ or ‘normal-types’? They may rethink and I hope that they join in. So, will you use recycled in your office?

I wonder whether you reuse the samples yourselves in your work or in your office? And not rely on the ‘reuse enthusiasts’ to do your bit for you. If you have no use for them, or cannot design them into something, do you expect there is someone out there with the design talent to put them to use?

• Yes, Alvar Alto? No he’s off doing other stuff
• So, do you design to reuse, with enthusiasm?
• They make good bases for coffee cups, kettles, planters and bins.
• So, will you use them to park your coffee and save the wooden surfaces?

The company representative used a tank full of petrol to bring you your sample. He or she probably has 50 more samples in the boot of their car so he or she does not need to find a space to leave them at home. The Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other pollution released was bad enough, but the extra weight means it’s worse.

Now you want them to collect the tiles from you. They will have to obtain a Waste Carriers License at great cost and time to their company. Under your Duty of Care you will both have to complete a Waste Transfer Note (WTN) with description and European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code number and both sign it. You will need to check with the Environment Agency (EA) that their license is valid and current. What will they do with the waste sample?

Fortunately the tile is inert so the landfill tax (£3/tonne) gate costs (£15/tonne), will be relatively low and disposal simple. They will use half a tank of petrol to take it to the nearest inert waste landfill site and they will be rejected at the gate, for being too light to weigh in and out.

The domestic recycling Centre will reject him for being a business waste handler. Dejected, they will take it home using another half tank of petrol and illegally put it in the domestic waste bin. The next morning racked with guilt, they will take it out of the domestic bin and take it to the office or the factory for them to put it in the commercial waste bin.

When we specify tiles for a project, we might expect all of the tiles to be from the same manufacturing batch for consistent appearance, so you won’t want the representative to add your sample to a box of the same tiles. The Quality Assurance (QA) officer will raise a reject notice and ensure that it does not find its way into the factory outputs.

After six months quarantine it will go into the bin and end up in mixed waste at a mixed waste landfill site with landfill tax at (£35/tonne) Gate costs of (£85/tonne). So, will you do your bit to save the planet and put it in the office waste bin?

On a more entrepreneurial note there are probably a lot of similar samples out there is many offices. Have you considered setting up a business to bring them all to one location to enable sets of similar things to be assembled and then sold as sets of similar but small quantities? My suspicion is that the Dragons Den might not offer you any money. Have you thought about crowd funding to start your business?

It will cost you £2800 to do a marketing campaign, script, video, editing and launch onto IndieGoGo. With the right email campaign to other architects with the same problem this could be a successful campaign. If you asked them all to donate samples and £50 you could be off to a flying start. You could offer a tile sample as a perk to give away to supporters. Or maybe not or you would have no stock to start your business.

Actually that was part of the plan, sorted. If the crowd fund campaign was a flop the samples could be sent to manufacturers who need recycled content. National Industry Symbiosis Programme (NISP) could be encouraged to join up the parties. Then there are manufacturers of tiles that use recycled content. So, do you specify any ceramic tiles because they have recycled content?

Amazingly there are charities out there that help the poor and the thrifty to put materials to reuse, some specialise in single materials like timber, I don’t know any that specialise in tiles. Then there are charities that reclaim and resell anything. So, do you support charities by buying from their shops?

Would giving the samples to charities, then buying them back make you feel good for the rest of the day? There are even companies that take waste skips and turn them out and sell the contents. The GBE A38 Appendix Recyclers will help you to find some of them. Will any of your projects use materials from a materials exchange site? There are salvage yards that buy ornate hand crafted pieces and ceramic tiles and bricks.

Will you search for the ones that have similar samples to yours and donate yours to them to make a bigger set? We in the UK Construction Industry throw away 10m tonnes of over-ordered and never needed materials worth £1.5bn every year. Enough to fill Wembley stadium three times a year. Not offcuts and damage, and not packaging, all new goods unused.

We also throw away 30% of 80m tonnes per annum as offcuts, because we don’t acknowledge the size of stuff when we design buildings. Some of it gets nicked from site in white vans to do Private Jobs (PJs) at the weekend

The rest gets skipped and thrown away. There is so much out there that 50 single tile samples will not make much difference. So, will you add yours to the office bin?

There is now many equivalents to eBay for construction materials for example Recipro. There is also Freecycling. So will you photograph each of your 50 tiles and add their details to eBay? One day your grandchildren might be buying your tiles on the black market to make plinths to stand on in the flood plains of North West Euro-lantic.

It’s difficult but getting better very slowly despite the Environment Agency (EA). Good luck and keep me informed of progress in your quest.

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
2nd June 2015 – 8th October 2017

Recycling Ceramic Tile Samples Blog
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  • CO2
  • EA
  • EWC
  • NISP
  • QA
  • WTN
  • WTL
  • landfill
  • recycling
  • waste segregation
  • buying recycled materials
  • closed loop
  • recycled paper
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • other pollution
  • Waste Carriers License
  • Duty of Care
  • Waste Transfer Note (WTN)
  • European Waste Catalogue (EWC)
  • Environment Agency (EA)
  • inert waste
  • domestic recycling Centre
  • Quality Assurance (QA)
  • National Industry Symbiosis Programme (NISP)
  • GBE A38 Appendix Recyclers
  • Recipro
  • Freecycling

© GBE NGS ASWS BrianSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
2nd June 2015 – 8th October 2017

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