The Rebuild Site: Rethink, Reclaim, Reuse

Business • Allerdale, Carlisle

Reducing waste in construction by putting surplus materials to good use

  • Wood from a Rebuild Site collection loaded up in the van
  • The Rebuild Site team at a Great Big Green Week event
  • A local school benefited from The Rebuild Site's community material scheme

Our story

Annually, 250M tonnes of materials are used in construction (50% of UK material use). 140M tonnes of waste is created, from construction, demolition and excavation (60% of total UK waste). An incredible 13% of construction materials go directly to landfill without even being used once. No contractors deliberately purchase more materials than they need for a job. But long lead in times, tight programmes, allowance for some breakages, clients changing scope and having to order full packs means that at the moment, this level of waste is almost inevitable. And at the end of the job there isn't an easy way to deal with the surplus in a sustainable way. Sometimes it can go to the next site and often it gets stored in the yard 'just in case' but a large amount of usable material ends up in skips.

The creation of The Rebuild Site was driven by our desire to drive a more circular economy; the glaringly obvious issue of good quality surplus construction materials being treated as waste; and the will to do things better for our planet and our local communities. By encouraging the reuse of existing surplus materials we are playing our part to reduce waste and lower the amount of carbon used in creating new materials.

We create value by:
- encouraging organisations and individuals to rethink how to better use materials and resources
- facilitating the reclamation of materials that are currently being thrown away or down-cycled
- enabling the reuse of existing materials wherever possible

The surplus materials we pick up go to community groups and charities to help with their building, gardening, crafting and repair projects. We also sell nearly new and surplus materials to trades and members of the public at reduced prices – perfect for that DIY project you're planning to get underway!

A circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components, and materials looping at their highest utility and value at all times - decreasing our consumption of resources, and crucially also reducing our carbon footprint. The Rebuild Site brings together contractors, organisations, communities and individuals to create a circular economy ecosystem.

Our advice

We researched and/or spoke to numerous contacts and organisations including:
- online surplus materials platforms
- construction companies
- third sector organisations such as Men's Sheds, Heathlands Trust, Right2Work, Give a Day Carlisle, Cumbria CVS
- local public sector bodies such as Carlisle City Council, The Environment Agency, Cumbria County Council and Cumbria LEP
We received advice, encouragement and support from peers, as well as:
- free support, resources, support and advice from Cumbria Social Enterprise Partnership programme funded by Cumbria County Council
- premises and advice from Kingmoor Enterprise Zone
- advice, awareness and support from zero waste / sustainability champions such as Sustainable Carlisle, Cumbria Action For Sustainability and Cumbria Waste Carbon Reduction Group

We are still at the start of our journey but continue to be open to discussions, partnering opportunities and learning from others. We are learning as much as possible and deliberately seeking out advice from people who know different things than we do.

We are very cognisant of the importance of the role of an organisation such as The Rebuild Site in providing a working example that others can learn from. As such we are endeavouring to document the process of setting up and operating the organisation at every stage with a view to replicating the model across the country. We are also applying our sustainability / reuse ethos to everything we do.

We've also done a lot of work on our values, vision and mission. It's worth really thinking about who you are and what you stand for. Our vision is to contribute proactively and practically to the creation of a genuinely sustainable construction industry, one that generates zero avoidable waste and zero pollution, and delivers social, environmental and biodiversity net gain.

Our metrics

Volume of materials collected/saved from landfill;
Reduction in carbon emissions through reuse of materials, reduction in landfill, & resource management improvements at sites we liaise with.
Number of community & charity projects assisted;
training courses and education programmes delivered;
Outreach programmes hosted;
Revenue/Profit for future growth

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...


Allerdale, Carlisle

Response to climate crisis





Business, less than 9 people

Shared by

Emma Porter

Updated Nov, 2023

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