The AWARE Group adopted the life cycle thinking approach (LCA and LCC) to maximize the resource-efficiency of the regional CDW management.
Construction & demolition waste (CDW) was identified as a priority waste due to its large amount (30-35% waste in EU) and recyclability. Currently, the 70% target set by the directive 98/2008/EC and more recent programs aiming at fostering the transition towards circular systems (COM2014, COM2015) have pushed local authorities to identify solutions for enhancing the CDW management. In this context, Regione Lombardia chose the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a tool to assess and optimize its own CDW management system from an environmental point of view. The LCA encompassed all waste management steps, and the savings of virgin minerals due to the use of the recycled aggregates (RAs) (i.e. the secondary materials). It included 13 environmental mid-point impact categories, an energetic indicator (CED) and an “ad-hoc” indicator for mineral resources. Coupled with the environmental assessment, a Life Cycle Costing (LCC) is performed to investigate the costs (preliminary, acquisition, operation and disposal costs) borne by the different stakeholders of the CDW value chain starting from the demolition step, and evaluate the most effective solutions from an economic perspective.
AWARE group collected updated primary data from constructors, demolition workers, waste logistics managers, and recyclers. The LCA has highlighted current bottlenecks of the system still preventing closing materials loop, allowing to identify effective solutions.
The LCA was financially supported by Regione Lombardia.
The research involves two young researchers, a Ph.D. student, two MSc students, and a supervisor. The LCA-software SimaPro was used for the impact assessment.
Evidence of success
The applied approach proved to be useful in disclosing the hotspots in the current CDW management system of Lombardia. The analysis allowed to identify the most effective solutions for enhancing the sustainability of the CDW management by quantifying their effects on the environmental, energetic and economic performances of the entire system. Some recommendations were provided to the regional government, that may help them in upgrading the regional waste management plan.
Complex processing of waste database (MUD).
Economic data are confidential, rarely available.
Collecting plant data was time-consuming. Making such data easily available for both local authorities and constructors is pivotal to enhance useful interconnections and for easier monitoring.
Potential for learning or transfer
- A procedure for MUD data elaboration to make available disaggregated CDW data.
- An evidence-based methodological framework to support regions in improving the sustainability of their waste management policies or in monitoring waste plan, that can be extended to other regions or waste types.
- Recommendations to improve the whole CDW value chain. E.g. to favour profitable interconnections between CDW recyclers and constructors, Regione Lombardia in collaboration with ARPA Lombardia has re-structured its informative waste system to allow recyclers declare the type and amount of RAs annually produced. The LCC may also help Regions to direct incentives to favour the use of RAs. To promote knowledge dissemination on technical performances of RAs, Regione Lombardia with ANCE has promoted training courses for local institutions and operators.