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Recyclate's home is not for always

Temporary and relocatable structures in waste management could be the future. Robert Alvarez comercial sales director of De Boer UK makes his case for their use instead of permanent buildings

Fires, theft and extreme weather conditions are potentially catastrophic for any business. Yet solutions are not easy to find, either practically or financially.

But temporary and relocatable structures could provide a solution as they offer security at considerably less cost than a permanent construction. They are also future-protected by providing greater flexibility and sustainability in terms of design and reusability.

The storage of recyclate is notoriously problematical, and simply piling recyclate in an open site is not viable. Leaving it exposed to the elements is an open invitation to thieves, and places it at considerable risk of damage through fire.

Temporary and relocatable structures can be erected swiftly and offer greater flexibility in that they can be modified or moved to suit changing operational requirements. They are more also affordable, usually up to 20% less than a permanent building.

Speed is of the essence with any new construction, but temporary structures have the modular flexibility to go up faster than most.  A case in point occurred during the harsh winters of 2011 and 2012 when many local authorities became desperate for additional salt storage barns. Householders demanded more gritting, salt supplies dwindled, and increased demand pushed salt prices sky high.

De Boer’s all-weather structures, used for salt barns - but originally designed to withstand extreme Scandinavian winters - provided the perfect solution and could be constructed in weeks. Two years down the line, and with most still in place, councils continue to reap the financial benefit being able to replace used salt at optimum price points safe in the knowledge that covered protection will extend shelf life by eliminating salt loss through leeching. 

Independent research by some councils has estimated the consequent cost savings. Milton Keynes Council, for example, estimates that one salt barn would save it £1.6m over 20 years.

Councils may consider other uses for their all-weather salt barns and so can move them to nearby locations. Internal layouts can be amended – perhaps for other forms of storage or for a different use altogether, including recyclate storage. 

Either way, significant cost savings, conservatively estimated at around 50% can be made by relocating and repurposing an existing structure rather than demolishing and building from scratch.

De Boer is seeing more and more temporary structures being relocated to new sites and put to a different use. For example, a temporary ice rink constructed in Brixton, south London, is being dismantled and sold for a completely new life as a storage facility for recyclate just a few miles down the road. 

Rental charges on temporary and relocatable structures are less than permanent buildings. So there is a powerful argument that the business rates relating to temporary structures should also be less. In many cases this is proving to be so but companies need to be prepared to argue their case as it is not always a given.

Businesses can also reduce their insurance costs through better storage provision, especially in the case of recyclate.  Providing better security, shielding the recyclate from view and keeping it under lock and key all act as theft deterrents.  It may not eliminate it altogether but, from a loss adjuster’s perspective, it’s a better option.

Fire is increasingly a problem for recyclate storage and can be started in numerous ways, with some being linked to arson or even free floating Chinese lanterns. 

De Boer advises recyclate sites to use profiled steel sheet roofing as opposed to PVC on temporary structures. It works regularly with loss adjusters, who will reward businesses where they can see evidence of a robust, protective structure in place.

Temporary structures can bring many other benefits to recyclate storage, including the creation of a controlled environment that is easily on a par with permanent structures.  A composting facility, for example, may require extra pumps to introduce air during turning, and to disperse or help capture gases produced during the process. Theses are easily installed in a temporary structure.

Dust, odours and noise may also need to be contained, especially in locations where waste is collected and stored close to residential areas.  In such a situation, misting could be deployed to damp down dust where aggregate or biomass is being moved. Where odour is a problem, the mist liquid can be perfumed to mask smells.

Constant loading and unloading of recyclate can present noise problems, but a structure acts as a noise barrier and helps to contain the problem to a certain degree.

To some, the term ‘temporary and relocatable structure’ may not necessarily imply robustness but in fact the very opposite is true.  In some structures, De Boer has included concrete push walls so that face shovels or other equipment that is used to stack or move stored materials do not cause damage. 

There may also be a requirement for composting material to be turned to reduce breakdown times, and this too requires heavy machinery and built-in composting bays capable of withstanding their use.

Times change, and recyclate and waste storage is under scrutiny as never before.  However, it needs to future-proof itself and installation of temporary and relocatable structures is a good place to start.


Dudley Council’s all-weather approach

Dudley salt barn

Dudley salt barn

Looking to maximise recycling efforts and cut down on waste, Dudley Council commissioned two facilities at its existing depot.

The first, a new green waste facility, would assist the authority’s ongoing efforts to recover and reuse waste generated across the borough.  The second, a 7,000 tonne capacity salt barn, would provide a dry, secure storage area for the council’s large stock of gritting salt. The salt barn would also help reduce waste, with large amounts of gritting salt otherwise being routinely lost to wind and rain erosion when stored outside – a saving of £25,000 a year.

Working in conjunction with Thomas Vale Construction, the main contractor on the project, De Boer provided Dudley Council with two all-weather halls – a 25m x 35m facility for use as a salt barn, plus a 25m x 40m structure for waste storage.

With ground works and the main ring beam being provided by Thomas Vale Construction, De Boer took just eight weeks to erect the two halls, providing a total storage and working area of 1,875 square metres. Each facility featured 8m external walls and an apex height of 12.8m.  Bespoke large doorways in each gable end of the waste facility structure – and offset from the centre – allows vehicles to pass through on one side leaving the majority of the footprint free for material handling and sorting.

Enhanced ventilation needs are associated with storing green waste and so ventilation louvres were created with the gable and main elevation of the waste barn.

Brixton Ice Rink on the move

Brixton ice rink

Brixton ice rink

In 2011, temporary structure provider, De Boer UK, was tasked with the creation of a semi-permanent ice rink in Brixton, London, while a permanent new rink was being built as part of a new sports facility elsewhere in the London Borough of Lambeth.

With the opening of the new sport’s facility late last year, the temporary rink has this month been dismantled. Component parts, from the roof to the seating, are being recycled or reused showcasing the exemplary sustainability attributes of temporary constructions at their very best.

The robust yet temporary rink was constructed to exceed standard temporary building regulations and meet operational requirements of a fully-fledged ice rink, including an intensive noise audit relating to break-out noise from ice hockey, ice dance music, plus the continuous operational sound of 24 hour chillers. Yet, in its dismantling phase, the 2613sq m structure has left the least possible environmental footprint with:

  • all ice-pad elements hired for the duration of the project removed and returned to the supplier;
  • festival-grade temporary power systems removed and returned to the hire supplier;
  • seating dismantled and donated to Brackley Town Football Club, home town of De Boer UK, where they now have pride of place in the directors’ box.
  • the structure itself has been dismantled and is in the process of being sold for reuse as a recycling storage facility.

Largest biomass store in Western Europe at Liverpool Dock

Biomass facility Liverpool

Biomass facility Liverpool

Creating fast build storage just 150m from the Irish sea, 65m wide, 170m long and a staggering 34m high at the apex, is a tough call.  But when it is also for the movement and storage of 65,000 tonnes of dust creating wood pellet, the job becomes more challenging still.

De Boer UK rose to the challenge presented by the team at Liverpool Bulk Terminal to build one of the largest biomass stores in Western Europe in just 16 weeks - despite its huge size and construction taking place in some of the worst winter weather we have seen in recent years.

The structure needed to receive material from 30,000 tonne Panamax vessels, be brought into the structure at a high level via a conveyor, and be discharged from a moving tripper. It also needed to address concerns relating to potentially high dust levels caused by the movement and flat storage of biomass pellets. The entire stock needed to be capable of a four week, first in, first out turnaround.  There was a local requirement for the structure to ‘blend’ with the surrounding environment.

The sheer height of the structure enabled the accommodation of a conveyor belt transport system, while special attention was given to eliminating dust traps at lower levels.  Use of coloured material to match the general local skyline at the apex helped the structure merge with the local landscape.

“Unlike some lighter weight structure options, our All Weather Halls were originally designed to cope with the demands of a Swedish winter so, by comparison, Liverpool Dock was the lesser challenge,” says Peter Spruce, managing director, De Boer UK.

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