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Concrete Use in the Housing Sectors of Great Britain and Thailand

Lookup NU author(s): Napaporn Tangtinthai, Professor David ManningORCiD, Professor Oliver Heidrich


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Concrete is a significant man-made material in construction whose use reflects socio-economic variations of countries. Flows of natural components, cement and aggregates, are investigated from extraction to final disposal following demolition. The housing sector dominates the use of concrete in urbanised areas (Hu et al 2010) and greatly reflects socio-economic and resource extraction issues. To compare concrete stock and use of contrasting countries, Thailand and Great Britain (GB) were used as case studies. Thailand has no strategy for recycling construction materials, registered data or integrated sustainability policies. Conversely, GB has policies and strategies achieving the highest recycling rate of aggregates in the EU by 54 of 186.93 million metric tonnes (MMT) or 29% of total supply in 2012 (MPA 2014; ONS 2013). We identify and evaluate key mineral-based components of concrete (cement and aggregates) from government and manufacturing data for 2012. Using material flow analysis and illustrating the finding with Sankey diagrams, we unearthed important contrasting issues. Having similar populations (GB 62 and Thailand 66 million inhabitants), and different land area (GB 229,848 and Thailand 513,120 km²), and to illustrate consumption patterns we linked these to Gross Domestic Product, useful floor area (Müller 2006) and concrete use. Our results show Thai annual concrete stock was approximately 3.5 times (234.89 MMT) higher than GB (67.14 MMT). Both metropolises, Bangkok and London, are on the same level of medium consumption for construction minerals (UNEP 2013). We discuss lessons learned as the demand for concrete is influenced by policies and taxations that promote recycling or reuse of aggregates. We propose a reporting method and conclude that Thailand requires joint-up implementation involving all stakeholders from government, private sector and community to set up the same goals. The method to report import, export, construction, demolition and raw material requirements across the country is necessary to inform urban, national and international policies. Importantly our findings can be transferred to other countries that undergo rapid urbanisation. References Hu et al 2010. Input, stocks and output flows of urban residential building system in Beijing city, China from 1949 to 2008. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 54 (12): 1177-1188. Müller 2006. Stock dynamics for forecasting material flows—Case study for housing in The Netherlands. Ecological Economics 59 (1): 142-156. MPA 2014. Sustainable consumption & production. Accessed 28 November 2014. ONS 2013. Mineral Extraction in Great Britain 2012. UNEP 2013. City-Level Decoupling Urban Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tangtinthai N, Manning D, Heidrich O

Editor(s): Roland Clift and Angela Druckman

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: International Society of Industrial Ecology-Taking Stock

Year of Conference: 2015