Founded in 2006, OCL Regeneration was established in order to provide an independently-run company to champion the increased use of more sustainable construction materials and the recycling of construction and demolition waste. Stuart Gready founded the company after ten years of working in the majors, after which he took his training and technical knowhow and applied it to the recycling sector. Since, OCL has grown from one depot in London to five depots nationwide and created a contracting arm that can use mobile versions of its techniques to provide services at the sites of its clients.
At OCL we own and operate all the required equipment to recycle defunct built assets such as buildings and highways into the assets of the future. Our skilled teams provide a full turnkey service that we affectionately call “grave to cradle”. We regenerate assets using the circular economy model and build in highly sustainable and more recyclable materials through our proprietary products and methods.
A great example of this would be when we mobilise to site to crush and screen C&DW and then mix it with our specialist equipment and eco-binders to create enhanced products that can replace aggregates, asphalts and concretes, all of which would typically be made of primary quarried products but in our case are nearly 100 per cent secondary.
Our highways department specialises in the recycling of spent highways wastes. One of our main products is called Foambase™ and is a cold laid asphalt replacement made mainly from the old tarmac that we have reprocessed. It can be used in all but the very top layer of the road surface and saves up to 50 per cent CO2 and up to 30 per cent whole-life cost when used in the new road.
Everything we do is about closedloop recycling, innovation in waste compliance and sustainable construction. Our philosophy is to reduce carbon footprint and wholelife costs wherever possible. We have always got an R&D project on the go. This would typically be a new product line or methodology where we are endeavouring to provide an integrated solution to a waste and its regulatory compliance while creating a technically apt and practical materials to national standards for our clients to use with confidence in their projects.
We have spent a lot of time and capital successfully building a network of depots with special permits and licences from the Environment Agency so that we can try to differentiate ourselves from our competition and provide specialist services. We are working closely with a company to develop an app for our sector which
will provide a hub for the classification and disposal of wastes while also creating a high-quality dataset for us to benchmark innovation and improvements.
Our permits allow us to recycle and re-use a particularly challenging waste called coal tar. It was a by-product of the town gas process that used to heat and light our communities and businesses. Coal tar has since been designated as a hazardous waste and so any spoils from the maintenance and renewal of those old roads are deemed contaminated.
This creates a big issue for local authorities and private asset owners alike as the disposal of the waste is very costly. Our process is approved by the Environment Agency to recycle and re-use these wastes and in doing so we can divert them from disposal while also creating a low carbon surfacing material, so it’s a win-win for our customers’ budgets and for the environment. We currently undertake these works for many civils contractors, councils and local authorities and so are driving down the costs of road maintenance while driving up the green credentials.
The main challenges for our industry are safety and talent. We have to all work together and be vigilant to look out for each other’s welfare and safety. This takes a concerted effort and commitment. The challenge comes when people of different backgrounds or experiences interface, and we have to manage that collectively without excessive cost or reduction in efficiency.
Recruitment in our sector is a real challenge. We need to ensure we are getting younger talent entering as they are the lifeblood of any business. The challenge is that our sector becomes less and less attractive partially due to bureaucracy but also because there are so many other more appealing sectors in which to build a career. We need to modernise and make our sector more interesting to secure new talent.
We are very excited and positive about growing into the space that we are creating through our environmental products and waste compliance solutions. The climate emergency creates a global imperative that we must all work towards and that OCL is very proud to be contributing towards through our low carbon products and methods.
We will continue to expand our products and services while also further establishing our network of depots to make them the norm rather than a specialist offering. That way customers will have easier access to what we do, and this will in time bring more shared experiences and confidence. What we do is relatively innovative in a quite staid and long-established market, and it often takes quite a long time for new ideas to get traction.
Of special note is our combined classification and recycling offering to the utilities sector. As with all sectors, our utility providers are under constant pressure to save money and increase sustainability so that this can be handed to our communities and businesses in the form of best value energy, communications and water.
As the waste management and compliance side of the industry becomes modernised and has to embrace the new challenges that today’s environments create, we have developed an integrated solution that helps the contractors discharge their waste management responsibilities on a “right first time” basis while also getting the benefits of reduced disposal costs and the use of enhanced recycled materials. We look forward to developing and delivering on this further and it will certainly form a large part of our future.