resource efficiency

Accelerate the transition to a circular economy
Recycle over 10 million tonnes a year of waste and secondary materials from other sectors.

"By using waste-derived, alternative fuels we’re reinforcing our position as a positive contributor to the circular economy."

Mike Eberlin, Managing Director, Cement and Lime

Supporting a circular economy, where waste is eliminated and resources remain in high value use for as long as possible; is critical for the long term sustainability of the UK construction sector.
For Tarmac this means designing out waste at every stage of the product life-cycle and developing products with greater durability, performance and longevity. Taking this approach helps to reduce demand for natural resources and ensure that the essential materials we need to supply our customers are available on a sustainable basis.


8.7 million tonnes
Waste and secondary materials used
RAP addition in asphalt products
105,000 tonnes
Fuel derived from waste

We are already making a significant contribution to the transition to a circular economy by keeping resources in use. By re-using materials that would otherwise be disposed of as waste, we can not only divert them from waste streams but we can reduce the carbon footprint of products and promote resource efficiency. As a business we are a net user of waste and secondary materials, using more of other people’s waste than the waste we produce ourselves. In 2017, we used 8.7 million tonnes of waste and secondary materials from other sectors as raw materials in our products and as fuel for our manufacturing processes, and sent just under 54,000 tonnes of waste to landfill.

Designing out waste

Our approach to circular economy starts with designing out waste from our own operations. Where feasible, waste generated by our extraction and manufacturing processes is reused or recovered internally. We also drive down waste by improving our processes and by being more efficient in the way we use raw materials.

We have identified a number of waste streams that can be used in various ways as secondary or recycled materials for use in our processes and products. For example, within our cement manufacturing process at Tunstead we use clay washings from the quarry and abatement dust from the adjacent lime operations as raw materials. We also use by-products from our extractive activities to build internal roads in quarries, or use them in our restoration schemes, avoiding the need for other materials to be imported.

Total waste generated (hazardous and non-hazardous)

Type Tonnes %
Hazardous waste to landfill 17,113 5.14%
Non-hazardous waste to landfill 24,294 7.30%
Inert waste to landfill 12,185 3.66%
Hazardous waste recycled 966 0.30%
Non-hazardous waste recycled 112,317 33.80%
Inert waste recycled 165,794 49.80%
Total 332,669 100%
Waste to fuel our processes

We use waste from other industries as part of our comprehensive waste derived fuels programme within our cement business. In 2017 we used 105,000 tonnes of waste derived fuel a 13.3% increase on 2016.

Recycling other people’s waste

Tarmac is one of the largest recyclers of construction and demolition waste in the UK, operating 44 recycling depots across the country to collect and process construction, demolition and excavation waste generated by other businesses. In 2017 we used this and other material to produce 1.8 million tonnes of recycled aggregates for use by our customers in construction projects. During the year we created a partnership with GRS Earth Solutions Limited to enhance the sales and marketing of our recycled products.
Using recycled materials

We use recycled aggregates and other materials such as ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) from the iron and steel industry and fly ash from coal-fired power stations as cement substitutes together with slag aggregates in the manufacture of ready mixed concrete. We also use RAP (Recycled Asphalt Planings) in the manufacture of our asphalt products. 2017 saw continued to efforts to progress our use of RAP, recycling over 740,000 tonnes. This represents a contribution of 19.3% against total asphalt production.
Minimising Packaging Waste

Most of our products are delivered in bulk to customers, which means we use relatively little product packaging. But where packaging is required, we try to minimize it. For example, we’ve been working closely with our customers and supply chain partners over the past five years to encourage the recovery and repatriation of pallets for repeated use. This successful programme has delivered mutual cost savings and wider sustainability gains and has helped to secure the reuse of 145,000 pallets, equivalent to saving over 19,000 trees.

Our total packaging supplied in 2017 was 15,854 tonnes, the largest components being wood (10,609 tonnes) and plastic (3,638 tonnes).

Packaging by type

Type Packaging Supplied (Tonnes)
Paper 1,605
Plastic 3,638
Wood 10,609
Metal 2
Total 15,854
Single use plastics

Throughout 2017, the issue of single use plastics has gained significant attention. We recognise the importance of this issue. Most of our products are delivered in bulk, avoiding the need for any packaging but for a small proportion of products, plastic packaging is used when delivering products to customers for safety reasons, to protect product integrity, to protect from the weather and to reduce wastage. At present plastic remains the most viable option and the plastics we use are recyclable but we are working hard to find ways in which we can reduce plastic consumption across our business.

We also play an important role in recycling society’s low value, end-of-life plastic waste plastic as a raw material or as a solid recovered fuel, when other recycling options have been exhausted. This helps keep these plastics from entering the environment.

Conserving water

Water is essential for many of our manufacturing operations. With the demand for water continuing to increase in the UK as the population grows and the need for industry to adapt to the potential impacts of climate change, water availability will be under increasing pressure. Water conservation therefore forms an important part of our resource efficiency programme and our efforts to move to a more circular economy.

In previous years we’ve introduced water management plans at our sites as part of our progress towards our target to cut abstracted and mains water by 25% by 2020. The new plans analyse the movement, abstraction, discharge and use of water at a site, identifying opportunities to reduce water use as well as risks posed in terms of water shortages, floods and pollution incidents.

During the year we used a total of 20.6 million cubic metres of water, of which 15.5 million cubic metres was abstracted from groundwater and surface water sources , two million cubic metres from potable water supply and a little over three million cubic metres derived from recycled water systems. This increase compared to previous years is largely due to improvements in reporting and collation of data.