The report from the EU Commission on the implementation of EU waste legislation, including the early warning report for Member States at risk of missing the 2020 preparation for re-use/recycling target on municipal waste, shows that Construction and demolition waste is the biggest waste stream in the EU by weight, accounting for over 800 million tonnes per year, i.e. around 32 % of the total waste generated.
There is a high potential for improving resource efficiency in the management of this stream. It is made up of a mix of different materials including inert, non-inert non-hazardous and hazardous waste. It consists mainly of a mineral fraction (bricks, tiles, concrete, etc.), which is relatively heavy and easily recyclable, but of low value. It also contains materials with positive market value (metals) or potential value if collected separately in clean fractions (such as plastics).
The Waste Framework Directive sets a 2020 target of 70% preparation for re-use, recycling and other material recovery for this waste stream. Member States’ performances vary significantly, with over half reporting that they already met the 2020 target in the 2013-2015 period, and some even achieving over 90% recovery. However, Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, and Sweden are still below 60 %. There is still some uncertainty regarding the figures reported by some Member States.
A recent study of how construction and demolition waste is managed across the EU identified the following key actions.
Management of construction and demolition waste
- Promote waste prevention through smart design, extending the lifetime of constructions, reuse and improving planning and logistics on construction sites.
- Promote selective demolition and sorting at source.
- Make use of EU guidance (pre-demolition audits and management protocol) 22 .
- Use economic instruments to divert this waste stream from landfills.
- Limit backfilling operations to those that are in line with the definition included in the Waste Framework Directive.
- Encourage uptake of recycled products through quality certificates and/or end-of-waste criteria.
- Expand use of green public procurement requiring recycled content.
- Improve the quality of statistics.