Delivery marks start of 500,000 tonnes of low-carbon secondary aggregates shipped into English capital each year
THE first sea shipment of construction aggregates derived from Cornish china clay waste has been brought into London by UK recycled materials specialists GRS. The delivery marks the start of an exclusive deal which sees GRS import more than half a million tonnes of secondary granite – branded Enviroc – from Cornwall into London each year by ship, with a fraction of the embodied carbon of other construction building materials.
London developers looking to build more environmentally friendly can specify the GRS material, available in bulk or bags, for almost every construction application from sub-base and capping layers to structural concrete and asphalt, and even decorative landscaping.
Recognized by leading green building rating systems as one of the most sustainable alternatives to quarried aggregates, Cornish granite has previously been used in a handful of London developments, including the Olympic Park. But its widespread use has been constrained by the belief that transporting it into London is not feasible.
In partnership with the Port of Tilbury, GRS have invested £4 million in a new Molson-supplied CDE aggregates processing plant on the dockside to produce a range of high-quality, certified single-sized products to meet local construction demand. Due to the plant’s location and excellent transport links, Enviroc can be delivered across the capital by road, rail, and even river using GRS’s wholly-owned Thames freight business Walsh Marine.
For centuries, the production of china clay (kaolin) has shaped the Cornish countryside. For every tonne of china clay extracted, around 9 tonnes of granite by-product are generated. This has built up into enormous waste piles estimated to be around 500 million tonnes, which are now the source for Enviroc aggregates.
The new venture sees GRS’s Cornish subsidiary Maen Karne haul the raw material from a china clay pit, near St Austell, to nearby Fowey harbour where it is loaded on to ships to make the 400 nautical mile trip to Tilbury for processing.
Antony Beamish, managing director for GRS Trading, said: ‘This major investment allows us to turn an industrial by-product into a high-quality construction aggregate, Enviroc. By also transporting this material by water we can achieve unparalleled environmental performance – an independent study suggests the carbon footprint is, on average, 47% lower than the equivalent primary aggregates.
‘That makes Enviroc arguably the UK’s most sustainable aggregate. Using it in combination with low-carbon cement, for example, could produce the lowest carbon concrete achievable. We anticipate that Enviroc will change the way materials are specified on major construction jobs. Contractors can count on a consistent, quality product that meets specification and at the same time know that it’s the most sustainable aggregate there is – a UK-sourced, industrial by-product transported by water.’