Innovation: A Concept For The Sustainable Use Of Demolition Waste Based On The Eu Thematic Strategy On The Prevention And Recycling Of Waste

Last update: 29.06.2013
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building waste‚ waste recycling‚ waste reduction‚ life-cycle management‚
Nearly four million tonnes of demolition waste are generated annually in Austria. At present little is known about the real composition of these waste sections. This means that the largest opportunity for re-use of this material is simply as filling material or in landscaping. A significant proportion is still deposited in landfill.To make more efficient use of these waste materials and sell recycled products, it is essential to increase knowledge and understanding of the waste. Only by being able to accurately estimate hazards, risks and also potential, will it be possible to implement the right recycling and prevention processes to more efficiently manage the waste stream.The Austrian Waste Prevention Strategy focuses on the prevention of waste production and on the employment of demolition waste to meet customers’ needs. However, little is still known about the gap between waste legislation and actual waste handling in practice. Nor is this situation particular to Austria, but creates problems for demolition waste management across Europe.
The EnBa project aimed to develop a concept for the sustainable use of construction waste in co-operation with waste-management, construction and demolition companies, and public authorities. Its ultimate goal was to bring forward the environmentally sound handling, processing and recycling of demolition waste.The project sought to make an important contribution to a broader process of creating more sustainable material cycles in construction by measuring waste streams in practice and thus providing more knowledge and understanding for the development of practical actions. Its foreseen outputs were better developed methodologies and data on construction waste recycling and re-use.The specific aims of the project were to:

1. Accompany the demolition of several residential buildings, measure the waste fractions and compile balances of the substance flows;
2. Demonstrate the risks and potentials, technical possibilities and framework requirements for re-use and recycling measures;
3. Develop a concept and initiate concrete implementing steps to avoid disposal of construction waste; and
4. Promote the sustainable use of demolition waste instead of waste streams to landfills.
The LIFE project EnBa has made a considerable contribution to improving management of demolition waste in the long-term. It has significantly improved understanding of demolition waste streams and paved the way for new approaches, technologies and legislation to improve re-use of waste emerging from this stream. At the end of the project, EnBa has produced an impact on deposited (24%) as well as on recycled (76%) waste streams.The project started by conducting literature research, interviews, workshops and round-table discussions with major stakeholders to explore the current understanding of construction waste streams. It then followed the demolition of six buildings, taking samples from walls, windows, ceilings etc. from the buildings, as well as mixed waste samples after demolition. A total of 258 samples were sent for laboratory analysis of key components.The project developed a methodology for characterising the composition of buildings from the samples taken, measuring overall substance flows and extrapolating this information to the national level using data on existing buildings and expected demolitions. It also created a database of hazardous and recoverable substances to facilitate easy recognition on a building site.The team assessed current practices and emerging trends in the demolition cycle. This included an assessment of modern ‘Design for Recycling’ approaches and likely future demolition waste composition, as well as a detailed analysis of current processes and technologies in building waste management in Austria. The project examined the gap between the existing legislative requirements for waste management and current implementation.The second half of the project focussed on bridging the gap between the now increased understanding of demolition waste generation and the operators in the demolition cycle, including public authorities granting demolition permits, and construction, demolition and waste handling companies. It promoted awareness of the life-cycle of building materials, examined different approaches for exploiting demolition waste, established recycling standards and promoted the concepts of ‘producer liability’ and a ‘building ID card’.Learning from the project’s work included that the potential to extract valuable materials – such as copper – from construction waste is extremely limited and that asbestos was unexpectedly found in old floor tiles. It is very difficult to separate waste materials into re-usable/recyclable components if they have been glued/mixed together during construction. Improved life-cycle planning is essential at the construction phase for improved construction waste management.However, perhaps the major achievement of EnBa came about through being well timed to input into important legislative changes, including a new legal definition of the end-of-waste stage in Austria and a new national five-year waste management plan. Both of these include the EnBa concepts of requiring an evaluation of hazardous substances and a waste treatment plan before demolition. The EnBa project has contributed crucial information on potential standards for re-use of recovered wastes as raw material.Further information on the project can be found in the projects layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).
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This innovation is the result of the project

Title: A Concept For The Sustainable Use Of Demolition Waste Based On The Eu Thematic Strategy On The Prevention And Recycling Of Waste


01.01.2009 to 31.12.2011

completed project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

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Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: DAXBECK Johann