How Does the European Recovery Target for Construction & Demolition Waste Affect Resource Management?

The revised EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD) includes a 70 % target for recovery of construction and demolition (C&D) waste. In order to study the potential change in the resource management of the main C&D waste fractions, as a consequence of fulfilling the WFD target, a Nordic project (ENCORT-CDW) has been performed. Waste fractions studied included asphalt, concrete, bricks, track ballast, gypsum-based construction materials and wood. Recovery scenarios were identified and estimations were made regarding expected savings of primary materials, impact on transport, and pollution and emissions. For wood waste, the main differences between re-use, material recycling and energy recovery were evaluated in a carbon footprint screening based on life cycle assessment methodology. The study concluded that the EU recovery target does not ensure a resource efficient and environmentally sustainable waste recovery in its present form since:

•It is very sensitive to how the legal definitions of waste and recovery are interpreted in the Member States. This means that certain construction material cycles might not count in the implementation reports while other, less efficient and environmentally safe, recovery processes of the same material will count.

•It is weight-based and consequently favours large and heavy waste streams. The result is that smaller flows with equal or larger resource efficiency and environmental benefit will be insignificant for reaching the target.

•It does not distinguish between the various recovery processes, meaning that resource efficient and environmentally safe recovery cannot be given priority.

Improved knowledge on C&D waste generation and handling, as well as on content and emissions of dangerous substances, is required to achieve a sustainable recovery.

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Last updated: 2021-06-24

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute has a wide environmental profile. We combine applied research and development with close collaboration between industry and the public sphere. Our consultancy is evidence-based, and our research is characterized by interdisciplinary science and system thinking.


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