In a lifetime, an average European citizen generates at least 160 tonnes of construction and demolition waste and this amount is increasing.

Recycling and re-using of construction and demolition waste is the answer, that’s why the European Commission is introducing a new protocol on construction and demolition. Based on independent research, the Commission is introducing the non-binding guidelines as a proposal to the industry.

This Protocol fits within the Construction 2020 strategy, as well as the Communication on Resource Efficiency Opportunities in the Building Sector. It’s also part of the European Commission’s ambitious and more recently adopted Circular Economy Package. Its overall aim is to increase confidence in the Construction and Demolition waste management process and the trust in the quality of Construction and Demolition waste recycled materials.

The European Commission recently hosted a conference on construction and demolition (C&D) waste in Dublin which brought together Irish players from the field to share best practices as well as new opportunities. The conference brought together stakeholders in Ireland and offered a unique opportunity to learn more about the new EU Construction and Demolition Waste Management Protocol and its potential benefits.

C&D waste represents a risk for the environment and real challenges for the EU. Another way of putting the problem is that every year over 2 tonnes of C&D waste is generated for each European citizen. To turn this mountain of waste into an economic and social opportunity, experts from the industry and the European Commission have drawn up the EU Construction and Demolition Waste Management Protocol.

The guidelines in the protocol are based on analysis by experts in the field and are designed to help maximise C&D waste re-use and recycling in all Member States, ultimately benefiting everyone. The overall aim of the Protocol is to increase confidence in the C&D waste management process and trust in the quality of C&D recycled materials. By boosting the C&D waste market, thousands of quality jobs could be created.

A circular economy from construction through demolition and on to subsequent reconstruction with materials created from the recycled waste is key to leveraging growth in the sector. Considering that 1 tonne of waste is worth approximatively €10, about €7.5 billion could be saved in the EU every year thanks to improved use of recycled C&D waste materials.
The benefits don’t just affect the construction industry, every tonne recycled means one less tonne being dumped, with obvious benefits to the environment. The market itself is not new, but is limited mainly due to lack of trust in the quality of C&D recycled materials as well as lack of knowledge about health risks for workers using them. Confidence in the overall C&D waste management cycle can be achieved through a framework where collaboration and openness are the core principles. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that every part of the chain is completely transparent and reliable, for example by conformance to common standards.

For a more extensive article see our July/August 2017 Issue of Irish Construction Industry Magazine available on subscription, contact Linda Doran