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70% of construction and demolition waste shall be re-used or recycled by 2020

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In 2008, the EU's Waste Framework Directive set the goal that a minimum of 70% (of non-hazardous) of building waste should be reused or recycled by 2020. Since these regulations also apply to the EEA countries, Norway must also comply with this requirement. But how does Europe and Norway compare to this goal today, when it comes to sustainable waste management?

“by 2020, the preparation for re-use, recycling and other material recovery, including backfilling operations using waste to substitute other materials, of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste excluding naturally occurring material defined in category 17 05 04 in the list of waste shall be increased to a minimum of 70 % by weight”

EU directive 2008/98/EC Article 11-2(b)

According to SSBs research from 2019 the amount of construction waste that gets placed on landfill in Norway is constantly increasing. In 2017, 36% of all building waste from new construction, rehabilitation and demolition went to landfill. 29% was sent to energy recovery, while only 34% was sent to material recycling, which is 8% less recycling than the previous year.

The EU recently (March 11, 2020) published “A new Circular Economy Action Plan” in which a number of new circular economic development strategies were presented. According to the document, the construction industry is responsible for more than 35% of the EU's total waste generation and 5-12% of national greenhouse gas emissions.

Circular economy action plan

Illustration Source: EU

In order to intensify sustainable development in Europe, the action plan takes a number of measures. The following steps are listed to address the opportunities for change in the construction industry:

  • Addressing the sustainability of building materials based on the EU Building Materials Regulation (CPR / Construction Product Regulation), including recycling requirements for specific products for safety and functionality.
  • Specify measures and dimensions to improve the durability and flexibility of building components in line with the circular economic principles for buildings design and developing digital logbooks for buildings.
  • Utilize “Level (s)”, a framework developed by the European Commission for mapping sustainability in buildings. To be able to evaluate the life cycle of public procedures and explore the appropriateness of setting carbon reduction targets and carbon storage potential.
  • Consider a revision of the material recovery targets set in the EU building and construction waste legislation and its material-specific fractions.
  • Promote measures to reduce soil sealing, rehabilitate abandoned or contaminated brownfields, and increase safe, sustainable and circular use for excavated soil.

Through the European Union's European Green Deal, the initiative for a "Renovation Wave" was promoted, to improve significant energy efficiency in the EU. This initiative will be implemented in line with circular economic principles, especially sustainable life cycles and longer life of building components. The European Commission will also focus on insulation materials, which generate a growing waste stream.

By taking part in the EU's "Renovation Wave", we have great opportunities to reduce building waste by utilizing the resources we already have. By mapping the buildings and the materials we possess, we can extend the life of these resources significantly. Following this initiative can boost the process of reaching the EU target of 70% re-use and recycling.