EU Circular Talks: More competitiveness of secondary materials to enable circular economy in construction

On 30 September, EBC Secretary General spoke at the EU Circular Talk “Construction and Infrastructure value chains and market”, organised by ENEA, alchemia-nova and Innowo as part of the activities of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform Leadership Group “Construction and Infrastructure”.

At the occasion, Eugenio Quintieri pointed out that 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 regarding the circular economy, specifically in terms of administrative burdens and technical requirements, due to their limited financial and human resources.

Moreover, several challenges currently prevent a greater uptake of secondary raw materials and reused and/or sustainable products. For example, some product standards impose a maximum amount of recycled products in their manufacturing process. In addition, the reuse of materials/equipment, which requires knowledge of their residual performance, is very costly in terms of evaluation. Another problem is the reluctance to reuse recycled materials or reused products because of uncertainty about their residual quality and consistency and general questions of corporate responsibility to use “non-new” materials and products.

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
To access the whole EBC presentation during the EU Circular Talks, click here

For more information about the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), click here