Lloyd Graham, Senior Social Sustainability Partner at Keltbray, actively engages with communities and stakeholders, through delivering community strategies, apprenticeship and graduate programmes and more, with the aim to better the lives of everyone involved.

In this thought leadership piece, Lloyd discusses the growing importance of embracing circular economy practices to benefit communities and shares insights on repurposing materials, and advocating for tailored approaches to support a sustainable vision within the industry.


Could you provide some insight into your background and how you have found yourself to where you are now within Keltbray.

A footballer by heart, but once that dream was not realised, I always had a backup plan. For this reason, I explored different ways of providing support, it began with football coaching, but gradually developed into not only providing support but creating opportunities through my current role in social sustainability. Initially I wanted a career change, and the buzz word was project management, I remember thinking I will take the transferable skill route and begin pursuing a role in project management. It was only once I was in my role that I fully understood the power of the industry, and more importantly the importance of my role in supporting communities.


What developments have you been involved in your work that has incorporated circular economy practices?

I have supported with the rehoming of timber, hard hats, earth, plants and so on. I have always grown up with a circular economy mindset, although it was never called that. Growing up passing clothes down was a necessity of life, as my family weren’t always able to provide me with new clothes, so I have always understood the value of rehoming or reuse. At Keltbray we have been able to donate floor tiles to community centres throughout our Woolgate Exchange project, timber sleepers to create flower beds for micro farms with schools close to our HS2 project in Camden, hard hats to a hostel to have hanging plants from our Broadway Project, plants from first floor roof garden (Aldermanbury Square) to BOST charity and Hacky Stairs (Canada Water) to paper garden.


Why do you think embracing circular economy practices is important within the construction and engineering sectors?

During demolition there is so much material that has so much more life left within it. At Keltbray we understand the importance of driving towards net zero, so with this in mind it is about exploring how we can potentially reuse, rehome, or develop existing materials to remain fit for purpose. At times, this includes using our engineering expertise to support that vision. BOST charity wanted to understand a bridge in one their community spaces, and because we were able to provide engineering solutions for them, they were able to manage their bridge more appropriately preserving its life span and not added to their upkeep costs.


How have you seen the circular economy evolve in your years in the industry.

Circular economy is still relatively new in the industry, but it continues to evolve which is the most important thing, it is important that clients understand the importance of appointing the right contractor to understand the project they are about to undertake and where there can be opportunities for circular economy to be implemented. The impact on their project and their relationship with the community if communicated right can be quite positive.


What challenges have you faced in implementing its practice/principles on projects?

Unfortunately, the biggest issue when attempting circular economy is time. Space on projects can be a given so ensuring we have a home for repurposed materials is half the battle, for this reason we are putting procedures in place to ensure we have more time to plan circular economy into our projects and locate organisations or places that can benefit from our circular economy initiatives.


What do you think could be done to better facilitate the adoption of circular economy practices and embed them within projects going forward?

For the client to not only invite contractors at tender to submit bid proposals, but to support their understanding of the potential of the project. There is no one size fits all approach to circular economy so allowing potential bidders to understand and assess its potential is paramount. Several clients are currently using smaller contractors to soft strip, missing out on the opportunity for circular economy.


How do you see the circular economy space evolving in the near and long-term future?

I believe circular economy is here to stay, building is being updated and modernised constantly, even when they are potentially going to be demolished, meaning that organisations could use these same products to bring their facilities up to a high standard. I am hoping that more contractors will store worthwhile pieces and explore different ways of repurposing materials/equipment to the benefit of our communities.