Global Recycling Day Logo

To mark Global Recycling Day on 18 March, IronmongeryDirect have published some surprising statistics revealing that more than 4 in 5 (83%) UK tradespeople aren’t sure exactly which materials can and can’t be recycled. What’s more, 9 in ten (87%) aren’t confident about what waste management regulations apply on site.

So, are you doing your bit to reduce, reuse and recycle?

IronmongeryDirect partnered with leading industry expert Pauline Marchant, Customer Service Administrator at iWaste, to explain the rules you need to follow on site.

What can I recycle?

Cardboard Plastic bags
Plasterboard Polystyrene
Cables / WEEE waste Bubble wrap
Monitors Oils
Paper Caramics
Scap metal Ovenware
Garden waste Lightbulbs
Glass bottles and jars (green, brown, clear)  

After it’s recycled, where does it go?

Pauline explains:

  • Cardboard – As heavy-duty paper, it can be easily recycled due to its fibres being previously processed from trees.
  • Plasterboard – It is possible to recover the gypsum from the plasterboard and recycle the component parts back into raw materials to help produce new plasterboard.
  • Cables/WEEE waste – These can be separated into components and the raw materials reused.
  • Monitors – The components can be removed and sent to a specialist glass processor. The glass and other elements can be separated and reused.
  • Paper – Paper will be separated into different types and grades, before being washed to remove the ink and glue, and then being made into new products.
  • Scrap metal – It can be smelted down and reused.
  • Tyres – They can either be turned into tyre-derived fuel or fed into a shredder and be reused as rubber.

What can I do to reduce waste on the construction site ?

The Green Register train construction professionals to build better, more sustainable buildings. They gave us a few pointers on how to reduce waste:

  1. Reduce 

    Avoid over-pordering. For example, you might want to plan your design to industry-standard measurements, so you’re not left with half-used stock. Storing materials carefully will avoid damage and unusable stock. The old saying ‘measure twice, cut once’ also comes into play – as paying care and attention when doing a job can reduce waste and save money.

  2. Reuse

    If you have space, store leftover stock to re-use on the next project. Where appropriate, use reclaimed materials or ‘seconds’. For example, protective hoarding boards can be used again and again, if looked after. Gumtree, eBay and Freecycle are a great way for excess materials to be repurposed by others – you might even recoup some money.

  3. Recycle

    Along with the usual commercial waste-removal and recycling options local to you, there are many companies that will collect surplus materials from site to re-use or recycle into other products. Donating materials to organisations like Wirral-based Recipro ( ) diverts waste from landfill to support communities with renovation projects.

  4. Use recycled/waste materials

    Plan ahead and try to incorporate products made from sustainable, recycled or waste materials. These materials will reduce the impact of your build on the environment and have a smaller carbon footprint.

  5. Get your waste plan in action

    If your project is over £300,000, you’re legally required to have a Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP). As well as being an essential from a regulatory point of view, they help you to reduce labour and skip hire costs. Contact your waste/skip company regarding their policy on the type or class of waste you’re able to put in your skip. Which waste rules and regulations do I need to be aware of?

Pauline advises: “You should always ensure your waste disposal company is registered with the environment agency, has the correct insurances, provides you with waste transfer notes/duty of care note, can provide evidence of correct disposal and has separate arrangements for hazardous waste.”

Anyone removing waste from your site will need to have the right waste carrier licence from the Environment Agency. If you don’t, you can risk a fine up to £5,000.

You can find full information about waste management regulations and licences on the following national government websites: