Construction and demolition waste (CDW) accounts for approximately 25% - 30% of all waste generated in the EU. This type of waste contains materials with high resource value such as metals, wood, glass, concrete, etc. Therefore, there is a high potential for recycling and material recovery of CDW which so far is under-exploited. The EU waste legislation aims to shift the management of various waste streams, including CDW, outlining a waste management hierarchy: from prevention, to re-use, recycling, recovery and disposal.
The Waste Framework Directive, along with other EU waste directives – on landfilling, end-of-life vehicles, e-waste, batteries, packaging waste, etc., includes specific targets to stimulate recycling. With regards to CDW, by 2020, 70% of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste (by weight) has to be recycled or recovered. The EU highlighted the importance of CDW in the Circular Economy Package which lays out Europe's path towards a circular economy and increased competitiveness. CDW is one of the five priority areas which the Circular Economy Package addresses.
Another step forward is the EU Construction and Demolition Waste Protocol, introduced in November 2016, which contains the first guideline about CDW management. The Protocol links with the Construction 2020 strategy, and with the Communication on Resource Efficiency Opportunities in the Building Sector. The Protocol contains good practices from across the EU that can serve as source of inspiration for policy makers and practitioners. It also includes an overview of definitions and a checklist for practitioners. Target groups of the guidelines are local, regional and national authorities, industry practitioners; construction sector, waste treatment, transport and logistics as well as recycling companies and others. The Protocol also clearly states that, beside improved waste management practices, clear and strong policy and framework conditions are of key importance to increase the recycling rate of CDW.
The level of recycling varies significantly – from 10% to 90% - between the Member States, showing that lower performing Member States can certainly improve by applying good practices from the ones with the highest recycling rates. The potential to increase construction sector resource efficiency by increasing CDW recycling rate is significant.
One possible policy tool to increase the recycling rate of CDW is Green Public Procurement (GPP). As part of GPP, a selection criteria can be introduced for recycling quotas in materials used for construction and sorting requirement for CDW. The Interreg Europe GPP4Growth project aims to address the challenges and exploit the possibilities related to the adoption of the new EU public procurement system, effective since April 2016. GPP4Growth supports the creation of new opportunities for public authorities to stimulate eco-innovation, resource efficiency and green growth, mostly by using new award criteria in calls and tenders that pay particular attention to environmental considerations.
Image credit: Photo by Math from Pexels
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