The importance of circularity in construction confirmed by the European Commission

894 Last modified by the author on 07/02/2024 - 15:19
The importance of circularity in construction confirmed by the European Commission

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission has published a report on construction and demolition waste (CDW) which confirms that the circular economy is crucial for reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

If you needed a proof about the importance of circular economy to atteint neutral goals in construction and demolition, you now have it. The European Commission has just published a report on the techno-economic and environmental assessment of construction and demolition waste management in the European Union. The publication aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking process.

Because construction and demolition waste (CDW) accounts for almost 40% of all waste generated in the EU, the European Commission " is taking important binding and non-binding legislative actions to ensure CDW is managed in an environmentally sound manner and contributes to the circular economy " as you can read in the report. The document  reviews, analyses and reconciles data on CDW generation, composition and management at EU level. It also performs an environmental and techno-economic assessment of the most important management technologies through Life Cycle Assessment and Costing for individual material fractions.

83% of CDW can potentially be sent for preparing for reuse and recycling

Results show that, subject to the uptake of best available technologies, recycling and preparing for reuse are preferred over incineration and landfilling for most of the individual material fractions of CDW " because of the associated environmental benefits ". However, this shift comes with increased costs, while indicating positive societal gains when internalising externalities, for most material fractions, except for soils and dredging spoils, for which uncertainties are significant, and for metals which are already today profitably reused and recycled. The study further estimates the potential for recycling and preparing for reuse for each individual material fraction of CDW, indicating that, excluding excavated soils and dredging spoils due to their significant uncertainty, 83% of CDW can potentially be sent for preparing for reuse and recycling (of which potentially 16% for preparing for reuse).

Taking as the baseline the status quo of CDW management in the EU in 2020 for each material fraction, and excluding excavated soils and dredging spoils, this would lead to an additional 33 Mt CO2 equivalent savings annually (more than for example the combined annual CO2 eq. emissions from Estonia, Latvia and Luxembourg) at a net cost of EUR 6.3 billion when assuming recycling only (up to 34 Mt CO2 eq. savings at a net saving of approximately EUR 2.9 billion when including excavated soils and dredging spoils). Under stylised assumptions and when considering the maximum preparing for reuse and recycling scenario, also excluding excavated soils and dredging spoils, a total reduction of about 48 Mt CO2 eq. with a net saving of approximately EUR 7.3 billion could potentially be achieved (up to 51.5 Mt CO2 eq. savings at a net saving of approximately EUR 19.5 billion when including excavated soils and dredging spoils). Thus, according to the report, preparing for reuse " should be promoted along with recycling to maximise potential environmental and economic benefits ".

To read the full report, please clic here.

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