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Extraction, Use and Disposal of Construction Materials in Great Britain and Thailand

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


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In the new global economy and a period of rapid urbanisation, construction growth has become a causal factor in economic competitiveness. Consequently upstream businesses, cement and concrete manufacture, also expand. Sustainability balances economic, environmental and societal issues and although this philosophy is realized in European nations, there seems to be less awareness amongst the 10 countries that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Great Britain (which has one of the highest rates of recycled aggregates among European countries at 29% of input aggregates) and Thailand are used as case studies. This paper investigates and compares for both countries. It analyses the construction industry, in particular the housing sectors, and the associated material flows from the raw material extraction to disposal. It considers the local and national cement industry calculating the raw materials needed for cement and its calcination process. Moreover, it also identifies and evaluates key mineral-based components of construction materials, including cement products, aggregates and concrete, and considers the waste chains and import/export data, using government and manufacturing data in 2012 for material flow analysis (MFA) and presenting the results using Sankey diagrams. For Great Britain with its 62 million and Thailand with 66 million inhabitants, we show that the Thai annual increase in the concrete stock is approximately 3.50 times (234.89 million tonnes: Mt) higher than Great Britain (67.14 Mt). This is reflected in increased mining of the raw materials needed to make concrete, namely cement and aggregates. Demand for primary raw materials in Great Britain is influenced by policies and taxations that promote reuse and recycling, accounting for 29% of UK construction materials. In contrast, Thailand using concrete as the main construction material now has no strategy for encouraging recycling of construction materials, with no registered data and no integrated sustainability policy. Therefore, in the foreseeable future, Thailand, a major manufacturer, consumer and exporter of cement in ASEAN, may experience problems such as rapidly depleted resources and improper construction and demolition (C&D) waste management. In 2015, the 10 ASEAN countries will form the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) aiming to have a single market and production base and there is an opportunity to report on the construction, cement and other raw material requirements, as well as waste management practices across countries. Capitalising on the experiences from the Great Britain case study to cope with rapid economic growth and societal change, this paper gives some important insights into the use of appropriate tools for policy-makers that consider the construction industry and its raw materials as well as its waste management systems for Thai national policy but also other ASEAN countries.

Publication metadata

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

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: International Concrete Sustainability Conference

Year of Conference: 2015