The stadium was constructed as the centrepiece of the British Empire Exhibition in 1924 and, over its long life, it witnessed such historic events as the 1948 Olympics, the 1966 World Cup Final, the Final of Euro 96 and the 1985 Live Aid concert, watched by a global audience of 2 billion people.
Of the 213 tonnes of aluminium identified in the stadium‘s structure, 185 tonnes were in the roof, which was covered with light weight aluminium plates. A smaller, but not insignificant volume was also present in the stadium‘s windows and doors.
Such a distribution of material, with one or two categories of components making up the majority of collectable aluminium is common in commercial buildings. This means that a large percentage of the total aluminium scrap from such buildings can be achieved cost effectively.
In the case of Wembley Stadium, 100% of the aluminium in the roof was collected for recycling. A considerable proportion (70%) of the remaining 30 tonnes was also collected either on site or separated off site from mixed fractions that included wood, plastics and other materials. In total, 96% of the aluminium from the demolished stadium was collected for recycling – meaning only 8 tonnes were not recovered.
While the aluminium in Wembley‘s light weight roof made up only 0.5% of the stadium‘s total mass, the aluminium collected at the end of its life made up a much more significant fraction of the building‘s scrap value. Even though, to some football fans, their piece of Wembley turf or tower collected from the debris is priceless.