Construction and demolition waste (C&D waste) is recognised as the most voluminous waste stream in most EU countries, representing on average 25-30% of the total amount of waste produced annually. This waste has a high potential for transformation into raw materials for construction and could benefit from the introduction of End-of-Waste criteria – launched by the EU Waste Directive 2008/98/EC. Similarly, certain inert industrial waste streams, currently being landfilled, have properties that make them promising raw materials for construction purposes. Some EU countries already exploit both of these waste streams and knowledge and good practice exist within the EU on their usage as raw materials for construction purposes. Slovenia, however, is among those countries that do not recycle these materials. This is despite the fact it has an annual demand for around 20 million tonnes of mineral raw materials for construction purposes, and that about two million tonnes of construction and demolition waste are created in Slovenia each year. In addition to the official data, over 1 500 illegal dump sites have been registered, most of which have a high proportion of construction and demolition waste. Unfortunately, it is expected that there are even more such sites which have not yet been uncovered.
The objective of the REBIRTH project was to increase and improve the recycling of industrial and construction/demolition waste for use in the construction sector. This aim would be achieved by communication and open dialogue activities aimed at raising awareness of these recycling possibilities at national, regional and local level. The project planned to raise awareness of the quality of the materials obtained from industrial, construction and demolition waste, as well as the economic benefits of recycling as opposed to extracting new raw materials. It aimed to highlight the environmental benefits of reducing the amount of new raw material extracted and the amount of waste sent to landfill or dumped illegally. The project would favour channels of communication open to professionals, state and local authorities, and the general public. It would also highlight legal issues around the correct disposal and recycling of waste and draw attention to the economic opportunities around the growth of new environmental goods and services. The project also planned to place particular emphasis on disseminating best practice from other EU countries. It would provide practical demonstrations on current technologies and information on successful administrative measures and tools to promote their use, such as green public procurement, environmental taxes and charges.
The REBIRTH project made a significant contribution to increased and better recycling of industrial and C&D waste in the construction sector. This was done through raising awareness of recycling possibilities for industrial waste and building rubble among the construction industry at the national, regional and local level. Emphasis was placed on the dissemination of best practices through practical demonstrations of existing technical possibilities and information on successful useful administrative measures and tools, such as green public procurement. The project carried out all the planned activities: four live demonstrations, two conferences, eight workshops and 14 lectures. It also created four well-prepared and informative videos and five technical guidelines (which are available online). Around 33 000 people were directly reached. Surveys conducted of participants of these events showed increased levels of awareness of the importance of correct disposal and recycling of the C&D waste.
The four on-site recycling and reuse demonstrations focused on:
- Cold in-place recycling for reconstruction of pavements supported by LCA;
- Recycling construction/demolition waste;
- Recycling and using building rubble from illegal dumping sites;and
- Using industrial waste (steel slag) supported by LCA.
The participants – waste producers, demolishing companies, local decision-makers, inspectors, among others – reported that the demonstrations were instructive. Using the project’s monitoring methodology, which was based on official statistical data for the period 2010-2014, the following environmental benefits (exceeding expected results) were achieved:
- An 11.6% increase in the rate of recycling of C&D waste;
- An 21% increase in recycling of ‘inert’ industrial waste; and
- A 9% decrease in the use of natural materials.
Furthermore, a survey among all 212 Slovenian municipalities, which was conducted by the project, indicated a downturn in illegal dumping practices. The number of illegal dumping sites was shown to be decreasing and a growing number of municipalities are actively searching for solutions.
The project activities also directly led to better implementation of environmental and construction legislation as a result of the workshops and communication with legislative bodies, as well through new legislative proposals. The project highlighted some inconsistencies in the application of waste legislation and several legislation developments are expected as a consequence, including:
- A proposal for an amendment to green public procurement legislation;
- A proposal for legislation regarding the concentrations of dangerous substances in the leachates of construction materials;
- A proposal for legislation on C&D waste – harmonisation with decree on waste and defining end-of-waste criteria for C&D waste; and
- Guidelines for classification of the C&D waste.
While it is difficult to quantify the exact contribution of the project to the achievement of these results, it can be said that, as a result of all the awareness campaigns and the associated media coverage, the project played an important role. It was in fact the only awareness-raising project focused entirely on the use of recycled industrial and C&D waste in the construction sector.
The project’s approach was very effective in achieving increased awareness, especially the on-site live demonstrations and various workshops. Nevertheless, communication with municipalities could be improved in order to maximise their participation. That said, the practical demonstrations of demolition of buildings and recycling of the material gathered a significant number of representatives from municipalities and mayors. As a result, at least one municipality, Ajdovščina, has begun carrying out activities for cleaning up illegal dumping sites and recycling of construction rubble.
The project could be easily replicated in other Member States through international knowledge sharing. The project is a good case study of raising awareness about environmental management of C&D waste, especially in the construction sector, and the on-site live demonstrations could form the basis similar actions in other Member States. In fact, the project methodology has already been transferred to other countries. The beneficiary and its partners are developing a project on cross-sector material recovery for the Horizon 2020 call on eco-innovative strategies with partners from Croatia, Germany, Hungary and the UK.
Coordinator: Zavod za gradbeništvo Slovenije (Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute
Partners: Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia; PKG Sprinzer Mirko s.p.; Slovenia KLARO spletna agencija d.o.o.; Slovenia Mayer McCann d.o.o.; Slovenia Structum, razvoj trajnostnega gradbeništva, d.o.o.
Duration: 01-OCT-2011 to 31-DEC-2014
Total budget: 981,528.00 €
EU contribution: 422,772.00 €