The Benefits of Recycled and Reclaimed Materials in Construction

Mar 15 2024

Hemali Ben

According to Howard Humphreys and Partners, 1994, “Waste from construction sites excluding excavation spoil is estimated to a total of 70 million tonnes a year.” Furthermore, construction materials account for:

  • 420 million tonnes of material consumption

  • 20% of the total ecological footprint

  • 19% of the total greenhouse gas emissions

  • 30% of all road freight

Considering these statistics, sustainable construction is a wiser choice, especially when building a home. Moreover, building a home with recycled and reclaimed materials offers numerous benefits. These materials are frequently more durable and long-lasting than traditional materials. Additionally, it is a sustainable and environmentally friendly method because it reduces waste and lowers the construction process's carbon footprint.

It may also benefit local communities by repurposing and reusing unwanted materials, giving them new life while reducing the demand for raw materials. This also means lower construction and building material expenses and a distinct character and charm that distinguishes your home from others.

In this blog by Brick & Bolt, let’s look at some benefits of recycled and reclaimed materials in construction, including the difference between recycled and reclaimed materials. 

What is the Difference Between Recycled Vs. Reclaimed, and Which is Better?

Many words get thrown around these days to talk about old materials being used again: reclaimed, recycled, vintage, repurposed - is there a difference, and if so, what is it?

Our experts at Brick & Boltare here to clarify the confusion between the terms and ascertain the benefits of reclaimed and recycled materials in building a home.





Classifying something as 'recycled' means that something gets returned to a previous condition in its cycle before being used as a material to create a new item. 

For example, an object, such as a plastic bottle, is identified as 'waste', which means it will not be utilised for its original function again.

At this point, it undergoes processing to take it back to a previous point in its 'cycle', i.e., it is processed back to the moldable plastic that it was before it became a 'plastic bottle', and that plastic is then utilised to build something new - even if that new item is another plastic bottle.

If something is reclaimed, it means it has stayed the same since its original state.

If you have recycled wood, it will have been treated into wood mulch before being reassembled.

However, reclaimed wood remains unaltered. It may be repurposed for a different function, such as a tabletop becoming a sliding door; nevertheless, the physical material is not altered or changed before being reclaimed for a new purpose.

Interestingly, this means that what we call ' recycled' water is reclaimed water; water is not transformed and cannot be restored.

Which One of the Two is Better?

The choice between reclaimed and recycled building materials is mostly personal, although certain considerations exist for each.

Regarding the environment, recycled or reclaimed materials will always be preferred over newly made products. But, reclaimed is preferable to recycled since it does not require any additional machine power to process the material. That only works for materials like wood, but not for plastic, which must be recycled to be useful.

However, recycled building materials have one advantage over reclaimed ones: They are more likely to get an FSC certificate, whereas reclaimed materials require numerous processes and resources. Realistically, both are good choices in the debate over reclaimed versus recycled.

Benefits of Recycled and Reclaimed Materials in Construction


The following are the benefits of recycled and reclaimed materials in building a home:

Environmental Impact

  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Using recycled building materials reduces the demand for new production, lowering carbon emissions from industrial operations.

  • Resource Conservation: By repurposing materials, we contribute to lowering deforestation, mining, and other harmful environmental practices.

Cost-Effective Construction

  • Affordability: Recycled and reclaimed materials are generally less expensive than new ones, allowing for cost-effective construction or low-cost construction without compromising on quality.

  • Reduced Labor Costs: Reclaimed materials, such as reclaimed wood or bricks, may require less processing, resulting in lower labour costs during construction.

Aesthetic Appeal

  • Character and History: Reclaimed materials frequently have a distinct history and character, which adds charm and personality to your home. Each piece may tell a story, creating a unique ambience.

  • Customisation: Recycling materials enables creative and individualised designs with various textures, colours, and patterns to make your home unique.

Conservation of Energy

  • Improved Insulation: Certain recycled materials, such as reclaimed wood, can provide great insulation, resulting in higher energy efficiency and lower heating and cooling costs.

  • Energy Efficiency in Production: Using recycled construction materials uses substantially less energy than manufacturing new materials, contributing to overall energy savings.

Reduction in Waste

  • Recycling from Landfills: Repurposing materials that would otherwise end up in landfills helps to reduce waste and promotes a more circular economy.

  • Limited Construction Waste: Using recycled construction materials reduces waste during construction because they are repurposed with minimal processing.

Community and Social Impacts

  • Encouraging Local Businesses: Choosing reused materials frequently requires purchasing from local suppliers, which benefits local businesses and communities.

  • Job Creation: The increasing demand for recycled and recovered materials creates work possibilities in sectors that salvage, process, and market these resources.


Building a home from recycled and reclaimed materials is a practical and effective approach to promoting sustainability. The advantages of using recycled and reclaimed materials go beyond construction. Moreover, choosing to build a home using such sustainable construction materials is a significant step toward sustainable living. Its environmental benefits, cost-effectiveness, distinctive aesthetics, energy efficiency, and good social implications make it an appealing option. By using recycled and reclaimed materials, homeowners not only help to make the world a greener place, but they also construct houses with character, history, and a smaller ecological footprint. It's a conscious investment that adheres to the circular economy principles and lays the groundwork for a more sustainable and resilient future.

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