Circular Economy: construction SMEs are vital to achieve the EU environmental goals

After months of forced standstill, discussions on the EU’s ambitions for a circular economy have resumed in Brussels and across Europe. In response to the New Circular Economy Action Plan presented by the European Commission back in March 2020, EBC and its construction SMEs are positioning themselves by supporting the decoupling of economic growth from resource use and the combination of economic progress with climate goals in their position paper published today.
With the ambition to contribute to a cleaner and more competitive Europe, construction SMEs are fully aware of the role they must play to reduce the impact of their renovation and deconstruction activities on the environment. They also know about the facilitating part they can have with regard to the uptake of sustainable products and secondary raw materials as well as the achievement of a “green” built environment. However, construction SMEs often face heavy challenges with regard to the circular economy, specifically in terms of administrative burdens and technical requirements, due to their limited financial and human resources.
Hence, a balance between competitiveness, climate protection and social responsibility needs to be found, in which regulatory initiatives are sensibly evaluated and designed and take the specific needs and constraints of construction SMEs into account. Having regard to this, in its position paper titled “EBC position on a New Circular Economy Action Plan”, EBC calls for the following points to make the circular economy a success:

  • Ensure the availability of sufficient waste facilities located close to construction undertakings or worksites;
  • Set up a multilingual online platform to exchange best practices on deconstruction and renovation activities as well as on the integration and promotion of recycled/reused materials and products;
  • Provide EU funding for awareness-raising/training programmes on deconstruction works and waste prevention activities at all levels in the building sector;
  • Revise construction product standards to increase the incorporation of secondary raw materials;
  • Establish rules on the reuse of materials and products in terms of liability and insurability;
  • Ensure the Construction Products Regulation is the only piece of legislation regulating the declaration of performance’s sustainability for construction products and their supporting technical specifications;
  • Ensure an appropriate financial framework to generate uptake of measures to improve the sustainability, durability and adaptability of the EU built environment;
  • Make the digital transformation of the built environment and the construction sector a priority in European funding programs and put special attention to the inclusion of SMEs.

“Construction is essential for the circular transition, not only because the sector produces a considerable amount of waste, but also because its SMEs implement the circular economy, notably by reducing the energy demand of buildings and by introducing recycled materials into the manufacturing process. However, as many of the implications of a change towards more circularity will be more difficult to manage for our SMEs, it is crucial that regulatory initiatives are evaluated and designed through a broad and constructive dialogue, to create an environment in which construction SMEs can fulfil their role in making Europe circular and sustainable”, said Eugenio Quintieri, EBC Secretary General.

EBC looks forward to cooperating with the European institutions and further stakeholders on the circular economy, to reach a sustainable European building stock and a competitive construction sector.

To read EBC position paper on the New Circular Economy Action Plan,
please click here or on the image