According to the European Commission, about 450-500 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste (C&DW) is generated every year in Europe, at least a third of which is concrete. The Commission has embarked on several initiatives to analyse and improve C&DW recycling across Europe. As such, the Circular Economy Action Plan identifies construction materials as an area of focus.
Concrete can be 100% recycled after demolition. Recycling concrete from C&DW offers two main benefits: it reduces dependence on primary raw materials and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill. There are two main ways in which recycled concrete is reused:
- As a recycled aggregate in new concrete
- As a recycled aggregate in unbound applications such as road construction and earthworks.
The choice of application should be based on the optimum balance of sustainability, local availability and long-term technical performance. A third route for recycling concrete under development is the use of the fine particles from crushed concrete as a secondary raw material in clinker and cement production (EN 197-6). In our view two key issues to tackle are: the lack of efficient sorting and collecting of C&DW, combined with an insufficient demand for, and confidence in, recycled materials. These aspects are two sides of the same coin. Also, often, the distance to to the new building or infrastructure does not allow quality recycled materials to reach a potential client in a cost-efficient manner.