Encore Environment and DCP Limited have formed an exciting new partnership to announce the development of a new mobile app ‘MATexch’. It is set to revolutionise the way in which UK construction companies purchase and sell surplus or unwanted clean building materials.
‘MATexch’ (an abridgement of ‘Materials Exchange’), will be available to download from the App Store and Google Play for free as a mobile app, but will also have a web-based platform. It has been designed to provide construction site managers with quick access to an online marketplace dedicated to the trade of new and surplus clean building products. It is initially set up for product listings from three of the most used types of building materials – plasterboard, drylining and ceiling materials, with more products to follow. Each can be filtered further depending on the description to classify specification, fireproofing and size, for example.
Addressing a need
During the Brexit negotiations, the supply of plasterboard started to become an issue for DCP. Matt Dulley, DCP head buyer explained: “Many construction companies were anxious about the supply of stock in anticipation of shortages. One of the products that was in high demand was plasterboard. This subsequently meant that the manufacturers went on allocation, meaning it was hard to get.”
“Because it was in short supply, we started thinking about all the excess plasterboard that must be on sites around the UK – that could be used by others – however, there was just no way of easily communicating about it. Normally surplus plasterboard ends up in a skip. Plasterboard can contaminate other waste in a skip or bin which could end up in a materials recycling facility or landfill, so this is not an option for DCP. To solve the issue in the short term, we began moving the plasterboard around our sites, however we knew it wasn’t sustainable.”
Following discussions with Encore Environment, DCP’s waste management consultancy, the need for an online marketplace for surplus building products was recognised, and the partnership was formed to bring the idea to fruition. Encore Environment has had particular success with its award-winning Project DIVERT web-based platform for the diversion of construction waste, materials and goods from landfill to social enterprises in need. Utilising the knowledge gained from Project DIVERT, the Encore Environment team were best placed to provide direction on the technology, as well as waste management and BREEAM expertise.
A digital step forward in building waste reduction
MATexch is unique in that it not only provides access to a dedicated online marketplace for unwanted building products, but it is designed specifically with construction site managers in mind. It is BREEAM compliant and follows the waste hierarchy methodology in terms of the priority order for managing waste based on the best environmental outcome across the lifecycle of the material. This means that when a waste item is identified, it gives priority to preparing it for ‘reuse’ first, before a takeback scheme, before recycling, any other recovery, and last of all traditional routes of disposal (i.e. skips and potentially landfill).
Rachel Rowley, managing director at Encore Environment said: “We understand that construction managers have to deal with tonnes of waste, surplus stock, strict health & safety regulations, vehicle access, inadequate space for waste containers, time restrictions, lack of end destination transparency and waste crime. The first easy option may be to order mixed-use skips and for waste to go to a MRF. Here, they do segregate and recycle, however if the waste is contaminated, clients will be charged a contamination fee, and some of the waste will go to landfill.”
“With MATexch, we hope to have addressed this unnecessary wastage, by providing the industry with a simple sell, bid, buy platform to move building materials at low prices, make money on excess stock, and also help the environment. It not only reduces the cost of waste disposal for companies, but it generates carbon savings from diverting it from traditional routes of disposal. Even small amounts of excess products can be offered online, helping to avoid tonnes of environmentally harmful waste.”
How it works
The MATexch app is designed to be quick and easy to use. A company can upload an image, add a description, size, quantity, if it is new, used or damaged, location, delivery information and a minimum bid. Potential buyers then have seven days to bid before the post expires and it is awarded to the highest bidder. There are no commissions or fees for sellers and buyers on MATexch, they just need to put in a minimum bid amount they would like for the product, or they can add a ‘buy now’ option so the seller doesn’t have to wait seven days for the bidding to end, and buy it straight away. Any unsold materials can be donated.
Buyers can also watch and report items if they believe they might be fake, misleading or suspicious. Sellers listing items will have a star rating which will indicate to buyers their level of customer service, accuracy of the ad for the product, and the positive feedback they have received.
The app is currently being trialled throughout DCP sites.
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