The Future Build

Reverse sustainable logistics

Designing out waste and taking back insulation to benefit the environment.


MASDAR City aims to be one of the world's most sustainable cities. Currently under construction in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), MASDAR City will feature all of the modern conveniences, services and benefits of living in one of the great cities of the world. MASDAR City will become home to 40,000 residents and 50,000 daily commuters, and is being built around pedestrians, where open public squares intersect with narrow shaded walkways and connect to homes, schools, restaurants, theatres and shops. The architecture of the city is inspired by the traditional medinas, souks and wind towers of the Arab world. MASDAR City is more than a concept - it is happening. Phase One of MASDAR City has now begun.

Construction Waste

Product returns can be the result of damage in transit or during use, over design or simply because too much was ordered. Responsibly managing waste on a construction jobsite is a vital component in sustainable building. Construction waste disposal triggers a sequence of adverse effects that are not always apparent to people designing buildings. These include the loss of useful property, wasted materials and embodied energy, greenhouse gas generation, and environmental stressors associated with producing new materials instead of using existing materials. Materials that go to landfills often are hauled great distances, and increase fuel consumption and vehicle emissions. As far as possible construction waste should be re-used or recycled. This suggests an enormous potential for improvement. Diverting construction jobsite waste is a key element in the building of MASDAR City. One such commonly used in building material is glass mineral wool used as a insulation.

Glass mineral wool

Glass mineral wool is one of the most environmentally friendly, stable and sustainable insulations available. Its raw material is silica sand, the earth’s most abundantly occurring natural material, and its impact on the environment in manufacture, use and disposal is minimal. In addition, the insulation contains around 80% recycled glass originating from used consumer packaging or industrial glass by-product that would normally be destined for landfill as well as having excellent thermal and acoustical insulation properties. It can be compressed up to 10 times for transportation and storage.

Optimizing efficiency

From the beginning it was recognized that designers have a significant contribution in material selection and that working with them in the design process would help to reduce waste by utilizing a more recycled material containing a high level of recycled material (‘recycled content’). Working together, the supply chain team set out to influence the design and construction process, both through specification as well as setting targets, prior to the formal appointment of a contractor. Then by working with the contractor and supplier the team looked at the work sequences affected in the generation of construction waste to find smarter ways to supply and apply a ‘take back’ strategy.

KIMMCO, a subsidiary of Alghanim Industries, a recognized insulation solution provider actively involved in Green Building concept, worked with MASDAR City to provide thermal and acoustical insulation, cut to size slabs and provided a proactive take-back program for waste after construction thereby providing a closed-loop system. Working with three different subcontractors involved in the building of the Masdar Institute they supplied 240 tons of insulation with only 2% of waste generated which was taken back. Based on lessons learnt, the team developed and implemented a “Waste Management Plan” for tracking insulation waste, a centralized material recovery centre (MRC) for sorting, processing, and returning material. The MRC increased the value realized from waste, while returned off-cuts were recycled to either make new glass mineral wool or used for tree planting.


Waste down: 2% returned and recycled

Critical Success Factors

The factors that determine the success of this sustainable reverse logistics initiative were:

  • Involvement of a cross-functional team and executive support
  • The sustainability objective of the initiative aligned with our business Objectives
  • Working with key members of the supply to find the improvement opportunities
  • Implementation and measurement with a commitment to continuous improvement


The Author

Richard Reynolds is Manager Supply Chain Consultancy at Masdar City. In this role, he is responsible for managing a team that is building Masdar City’s sustainable supply chains and promoting the city’s adoption of sustainable products and behaviours. Among other things, Richard and his team have developed The Future Build portal a “green” web-based materials directory, materials carbon table, a code of conduct and a number of long-term strategic supplier partnerships. With more than 30 years experience in supply chain management working in the oil and gas and civil construction industries, Richard has worked in Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Asia, South America and North America.

Before joining Masdar City, Richard was Vice President and Director of Supply Chain Sustainability at CH2M HILL for the Masdar City project, where he was the single point of responsibility for supply chain activities related to the construction of the city. Prior to that, Richard worked for Aker Kvaerner in Norway and the UK, where he was Vice President of Supply Management for the Products and Technologies Business Area responsible for seven product and technology business units with worldwide operations, annual turnover of $1.06 billion and spend of $793 million. He was responsible for developing strategy, commodity sourcing programmes, strategic supplier relationships and the Aker Kvaerner Supply Management Academy.

Richard holds an MBA in Strategy and Strategic Procurement from Birmingham University and an MSc in Supply Chain Management from Robert Gordon’s University in Aberdeen. He is a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply and a Member of the Institute of Logistics.