Circular economy: EBC shares construction SMEs considerations in ECESP Circular talk on secondary materials

As part of the frequent EU Circular talks, the Leadership Group on Construction and Infrastructure of the European Circular Economy Stakeholders Platform ECESP gathered today around 100 stakeholders to discuss the role of secondary materials in new constructions and in buildings renovation. EBC Secretary General was invited to share considerations from construction SMEs on circularity in the sector.

It is now common knowledge that construction materials and products represent about 50% of all raw materials extracted from the earth’s crust and that construction and demolition activities represent around 50% of all waste generated. The idea of this session was thus to take stock of the potential developments regarding circularity in construction since the 2021 Circular Talks on associated topics.

After an institutional introduction by Anders Ladefoged, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee, Josefina Lindblom from DG Environment of the European Commission presented the progress and training now available regarding Level(s), which intends to provide a streamlined framework for EU-wide sustainability performance indicators of buildings. She also added how circularity is increasingly present in several legislative dossiers, notably the under-revision Construction Products Regulation.

From his side, EBC Secretary General remined that construction SMEs are committed and conduct actions to improve their use of resources and minimize waste, increasingly putting circularity at the heart of construction in collaboration with the whole value chain. However, there are still many challenges and issues regarding the use and application of secondary materials in the construction sector.

He added that although the current geopolitical context is now more favourable to developing more resource-efficient models in the built environment, several barriers are still in place, among others effective waste sorting and quality control, liability and performance concerns, discontinuity of supply, costs and market acceptance or the lack of skills, experience and guidance for ensuring the uptake of reusable, recycled and secondary products.

Construction SMEs need limited administrative burden to thrive, while the regulatory frameworks governing circularity require closer monitoring and more documentation on environmental performances; this means that a balanced and coherent legislative/regulatory approach is needed, with digitalisation as a potential enabler. Indeed, provided with adapted technical and financial support due to their limited financial and human resources, construction SMEs could be a great facilitator for the uptake of sustainable products and methods.

Additionally, the Green Building Council Italy, Madaster and other circularity experts presented best practices, to highlight innovative projects that could inspire others and encourage building professionals to take a greater interest in circular products, tools and working methods.

To learn more about the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, visit the website