Waste directive: construction SMEs promote an enabling framework and specific support for successful implementation

On 8 October, EBC gave a presentation highlighting the main challenges, shortcomings and possible solutions in regard to waste legislation for construction SMEs at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) expert hearing on the implementation of EU environmental legislation on air quality, water and waste. EBC Policy Officer, Ann-Cathrin Rönsch, highlighted during the presentation that construction SMEs are still facing major challenges when dealing with construction and demolition waste. “A major problem is that in some countries small enterprises or crafts who perform demolition activities are still forced to do long and expensive transfers to authorized waste plants, which is far from being in line with the proximity criterion”, remarks Rönsch.

In order to reach the target that 70% of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste is recycled or recovered by 2020, it is important to develop an enabling framework. It is thus important to equip regions with a homogeneous network of authorized collection points such as waste grouping platforms/transit platforms, that allow the concentration of small waste quantities and enable enterprises to obey to the proximity criterion. These could further sort the waste and check which materials could be valuable for reuse or recycling. Furthermore, specific financial support for the upskilling of blue-collars and SME training is essential, in particular in regard to selective demolition, the use of new technologies and the handling of hazardous substances.

However, further efforts are also necessary to improve the access to information and the development of a functioning market for recycled products. “A problem that construction SMEs often face is access to information, about  training schemes, financial support, best-practices, new techniques and technical developments, for which national online platforms could display a solution. In addition to this, further work has to be undertaken to develop a “real” market for recycled products, because the demand for these types of product appears to be very low”, concludes Rönsch.