Construction and demolition waste represents about 40% of the waste generated in EU. It consists of a mix of materials such as concrete, metals, plastics, gypsum, insulation, wood and glass among the others.
The current management practices mainly aim at recovering the very heavy fraction (concrete) via crushing and re-utilisation of the recovered material for road sub-basis or landscaping/environmental filling.
This is however not the best valorisation avenue for this fraction, as returning it into quality-concrete for the construction sector would certainly be preferable from both an economic and environmental perspective. Further, the remaining materials such as plastics and wood are typically not recovered and sent to incineration/landfill, thus missing an opportunity for maintaining them in our economic loops.
At the same time, new and innovative selective demolition and recycling technologies are being developed, which can be deployed to maximise the benefits society can achieve from the recycling of construction and demolition waste.
With the input by academic experts and stakeholders from the construction and waste recycling sector, JRC research focuses on assessing the material flows and the cost/benefits of recycling the different materials contained in construction and demolition waste. This may include proposing targets for recycling and reuse of individual materials contained in construction and demolition waste (e.g. plastic, wood, insulation), or limitations on landfilling and incineration.
JRC’s work relies on intensive collaborations with the Commission department for Environment (DG ENV), involving also the department for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW).