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Recycled Content at the Touch of a Button

To help the construction industry find practical ways of responding to the sustainability agenda, WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) has launched a web-based tool to assist with the process of setting and meeting project requirements for recycled content.

WRAP’s role is to encourage materials resource efficiency. It is working closely with every level of the construction supply chain to demonstrate the business case and provide practical guidance and interactive tools relevant to every stage of the construction process. The new Evaluation Tool for Recycled Content in Construction Projects (RC Toolkit), launched today and available at is the latest addition to this range of support materials.

The RC Toolkit is designed to be easy to use and allows the user to:

  • estimate the baseline and good practice levels of recycled content;
  • identify the top 10 ‘Quick Win’ opportunities to improve environmental performance by substituting cost-competitive products with a higher-than-standard recycled content;
  • refine the analysis to reflect actual product choices and design details; and
  • quantify the projected recycled content and report how it will be achieved.

When applied during the planning and design stages, it can be used to check that a construction project will meet its targeted outcome for recycled content. This minimises effort for construction professionals who need to respond to the growing number of clients setting requirements for materials resource efficiency – such as Glasgow City Council, who recently mandated a minimum 10% recycled content in major construction tenders.

The output from the RC Toolkit can also be used to confirm the level of recycled content that has been achieved, allowing contractors and consultants to clearly demonstrate a quantitative contribution to the environmental performance of the building.

Flexible and easy to use

Users simply feed in project information such as building type, size and basic structural specifications, e.g. concrete or steel frame. Using reference data for around 500 standard specifications, the toolkit then calculates approximate quantities and materials costs. It works out the baseline recycled content of the building based on standard practice and assesses what is achievable through the adoption of good practice.

Based on these results, the toolkit identifies the top ten ‘Quick Win’ opportunities: product categories where users could improve environmental performance by substituting cost-competitive products with higher-than-standard recycled content. Users can determine which ‘Quick Wins’ they will adopt on the project and quantify the projected overall outcome, and this analysis can then be further refined to reflect actual product choices and design details.

Pre-formatted reports can be generated comparing the recycled content potential to the client’s requirement and showing how that requirement will be met. The toolkit also has the facility to record the reasons why a ‘Quick Win’ option has been selected or rejected.

Structured to be flexible and secure, the toolkit allows registered users to generate their own building datasets from scratch, or use one of WRAP’s pre-compiled models. It is also possible to generate new buildings from existing building information. Users’ data are password protected, enabling organisations to save a library of project results. Access can be granted to other project team members so that they can refine the analysis as the project design and specification are developed.

Primarily for application on new build projects, the toolkit has been developed by Faithful and Gould, Cyril Sweett and Solstice Associates. It is based on reference values for recycled content and materials costs from around 500 standard specifications and includes data from BRE, AMA Research and Davis Langdon.

It is available to use free of charge at and project teams influencing substantial construction budgets may be eligible for free training to enable them to take full advantage of the toolkit’s capabilities.

Detailed product information

To complement the RC Toolkit, WRAP has published Choosing Construction Products: recycled content of mainstream products, a compendium of products and materials commonly used in new build and refurbishment projects.

The publication allows the user to identify the range of values of recycled content for each type of product (at ‘standard’, ‘good’ and ‘best’ practice), compare the recycled content of alternative brands and study datasheets for individual brands. Over 35 product categories are included and details are provided for over 100 products/brands. The publication is available for download from WRAP’s dedicated Construction Portal at

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