BCA to study guidelines on recycled construction materials

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is working with the universities and industry to encourage wider use of recycled materials such as NewConcrete in the construction industry.

The aim is to reduce Singapore’s dependency on sand and granite in concrete production.

Granite has been in short supply lately and contractors have been turning to recycled materials for construction wherever possible.

But they often find that developers and consultants shun these substitutes.

Simon Lee, Executive Director, Singapore Contractors Association Ltd, said: “The adoption is slow because there are some concerns on the performance of these materials. The materials are not specified in the contracts and even the regulations do not specifically address them.”

To encourage greater use of recycled materials, the BCA said it is now working on new guidelines.

Ong See Ho, Commissioner of Building Control, BCA, said: “The guidelines will basically cover the tests that have to be carried out on these materials to see if they can meet the standards required and to find out things such as the allowable amounts of impurities, the long-term effects and how to manage the strength and durability issues.”

One possibility is NewConcrete or Eco-Concrete, which is now used for pavements, kerbs and drains.

Tests are still being done to see if it can also be used in load-bearing structural walls and columns.

For now, BCA said eco-concrete can only make up 10 percent of all structural components.

The process involved in making eco-concrete is no different from that of conventional concrete.

What is unique is that it uses recycled material called washed copper slag, which will replace up to 70 percent of the sand used in concrete production.

Copper slag is a by-product of sandblasting at local shipyards.

Recycled granite from demolition waste also goes into the production of eco-concrete which will further ease demand on the natural material.

Industry players said eco-concrete costs 10 percent less and hope the material can be used for more structural works.

Dr Sujit Ghosh, Vice President, Operations, Holcim (Singapore) Pte Ltd, said: “What we are doing now is to try and launch this eco-concrete across non-structural first because this creates the awareness as well as the buy-in.

“And as time goes by, we can gradually move into higher applications and at that point, we may look into other avenues for these materials. Currently, it’s still limited to what is available from the ship repair industry which is about 400,000 tonnes a year.”

In another push for sustainable construction, the Housing and Development Board is working with BCA to identify projects where eco-concrete can be used.

Source: Channel NewsAsia, 15 May 2007

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