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Materials and waste

Materials and waste

The construction of Crossrail is generating waste and excavated materials. Crossrail is committed to implementing the waste hierarchy to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. We aim to divert at least 90 per cent of our construction and demolition waste from landfill and for at least 95 per cent of our excavated material to be beneficially reused.

Recycling and reuse of waste material

During 2015-16, 389,068 tonnes of material was excavated from tunnelling and underground station construction, 98 per cent of it was diverted from landfill. This material was beneficially reused at a number of sites across the south east such as the Ingrebourne Valley in Essex where it is used to restore to recreational and agricultural uses.

This brings the total excavated to approximately 7.9 million tonnes since construction began. The amount excavated during 2015-16 is significantly less compared to previous years as these works near completion. Diversion of excavated material from landfill has been one of the key successes of the construction programme. The partnership with the RSPB to help create Wallasea Island has been a key element of this success. Early partnership with the RSPB as part of holistic planning and collaboration enabled greater use of rail and water transportation to the site, helping remove lorries from London’s roads.

67,280 tonnes of construction and demolition material, the majority of which is construction waste, was also produced during 2015-16. Ninety-seven per cent of this was diverted from landfill.

80% of excavated material has been transported by rail or water significantly reducing lorry journey

(*80% on a tonne per kilometre basis)

The materials produced from the railway fit-out, although smaller in volume, consist of diverse packaging materials and are more likely to be sent for recycling and recovery rather than re-use.

One example being implemented is a plastic frame system used to transport lighting. The system is fitted with shelves allowing them to be returned to the supplier who re-stocks and returns them to site with the next shipment, thus saving on a huge amount of packaging waste. Crossrail will work closely with its principal contractors to set targets for this waste stream.

Crossrail will also be a major consumer of resource throughout its lifetime, most intensively during construction.  The production, manufacture and distribution of construction materials can have significant impacts on the environment and so it is important that decisions about the amount and type of materials purchased are made in an environmentally responsible way.  We aim for at least 15% (by value) of the new construction materials to be from reused and recycled sources. 

At the end of FY 2015-16 Crossrail’s waste performance is:

  • 97% of our demolition waste has been reused or recycled
  • 97% of our construction waste has been reused or recycled
  • 99% of clean excavated material has been beneficially reused
  • 34% of total material value used for construction from reused and recycled content.

Sustainability Report Infographics - recycling and reuse of waste material

Giving new life to 7 million tonnes of excavated material

Over seven million tonnes of excavated material will be mined during Crossrail's construction. Ninety-eight percent of this has been reused to being new life to nature reserves, recreational facilities, agriculture and industrial land in London and the South-East.

Nearly 80 percent on a tonne per kilometre basis of material transported to these sites was by rail and water, significantly reducing lorry journeys in the streets of London.

The map and key below shows how we have beneficially re-used material excavated during the construction of Crossrail.

Map showing where excavated material was used

  1. Wallasea Island - over three million tonnes was used to create a 1,500 acre wildlife habitat at Wallasea Island in Essex.
  2. Ockendon - landfill restoration engineering prior to creating a wildlife reserve
  3. Pitsea Landfill - supporting restoration of RSPB nature reserve
  4. Kingsworth - raise land to allow for construction of a commercial park
  5. Goshems Farm - grazing pasture for livestock
  6. East Tilbury Quarry - supporting restoration of RSPB wetland nature reserve
  7. Ingrebourne - golf course
  8. Fairlop Quarry - agricultural use and nature conservation
  9. Rainham landfill - landfill restoration
  10. Calvert Landfill - landfill restoration