Urban Mining

“Cities are the mines of the future" - Jane Jacobs


London is one of the most dynamic and innovative cities in the world. Rich in culture and commerce, the nations capital is also a mineral and materials resource. From the flow of consumer and business products to the built environment and infrastructure, London is taking a central role in leading the UK to the Circular Economy.

Urban Mining in London

Many of the raw materials required in manufacturing and production are found in Londons industrial and urban environment. Much of these resources or "urban ores" are held  as in-use stock - materials that form current buildings, machinery  and infrastructure. However once the current uses reaches end-of-life, careful collection and processing by Urban Mining facilities such as GB Skips East London Waste Processing plants ensure these raw materials become available for use in new products and building. Sourcing minerals, metals and raw materials in this way is proven to have far less environmental impact than sourcing from excavation and mining.

Some urban ore stock, such as metals heavily embedded in infrastructure and buildings may be too costly and difficult to remove from site, and must remain in-situ until the right urban-transformation project either prepares them for extraction or re-purposes them . Alongside these harder to reach deposits, there is a substantial amount of stock that is simply and easily extracted.

The deposits of Urban Ore not just metals - the copper in power distribution, plumbing and IT infrastructure, or the iron in old industrial machinery, but also aggregates and re-usables such as packaging and consumables waste. Ensuring these valuable commodities are successfully extracted from the urban environment, tapping into business and consumer material flows then prepared for use in new manufacturing and infrastructure projects is a key goal of GB Waste Managements successful Urban Mining.

The majority of waste coming in to GB Waste Managements Urban Mines in East London are separated and processed using a combination of in-house expertise and state-of-the-art mechanical sorting equipment that help us gather the greatest yield of usable materials from the that we collect through both our long-term Waste Management relationships and local Skip Hire services in East London.

Materials from Urban Business & Consumer Flows

MaterialArrives asWhat We Do With ItReused As
Paper Sacks of waste paper Pulp, compact Packaging
Cardboard Old cardboard boxes Pulp, compact, compress, bale Packaging
Glass Bottles, jars Remove lids and labels, crush and melt into cullet New glass products
Textiles Curtains, clothing, sofa covers Shred, bale Packaging 
Plastics Garden furniture, toys, bottles Bale and compact New plastics


Materials from Building & Infrastructure Flows

MaterialArrives asWhat We Do With ItReused As
Glass Bottles, jars Remove lids and labels, crush and melt into cullet New glass products
Wood Furniture, pallets, window frames, sheds Treat and chip Biomass fuel,
fibreboard, sawdust
Hardcore Bricks, concrete, stone Crush Aggregates for new building materials
Metals Wire, fittings, left over materials, cans Bale and strip New metals
Plasterboard Plasterboard Separate, crush New plasterboard
Soil  Soil and inert material from digging foundations Screen Road base

Any remaining materials collected that contain deposits too complex to extract goes to landfill and is carefully recorded.

The Future of Urban Mining in London

As technology companies such as Apple move away from mined to ethically and sustainably sourced materials and Government agencies such as the LWARB helps London move towards a Circular Economy, the importance of reliable collection and processing of urban ore increases.  With  demand for materials increasing and urban stock becoming increasingly available through urban renewal, redevelopment and continued growth in the circular economy, Urban Mines such as our East London Waste Processing plants are becoming increasingly central to the new economy.

GB Waste Management continue to provide core capabilities and expertise to business, consumers and government, ensuring that the full potential of all the materials that we collect and process through best practice in Urban Mining is reached.