Circular Economy: Ongoing revision of the EU Construction and Demolition Waste Management Protocol and Pre-demolition Audit Guidelines

As construction and demolition waste (CDW) constitutes the largest waste stream in the EU in terms of volume, the European Commission has been working to improve the processes pursuing CDW management and practices. In 2016, the Commission introduced for the first time an EU Construction and Demolition Waste Management Protocol, with the aim to help operators improve relevant practices across Europe. Subsequently, Guidelines for the Waste Audits Before Demolition and Renovation works of buildings were issued in 2018. While these documents are not legally binding and do not supersede national legislation, they are important tools to help assist local actors in CDW management in demolition and renovation activities.

At the time, EBC had contributed to the developments of these guiding documents, bringing the viewpoint of construction SMEs and crafts. As a result, the current Protocol and Guidelines offer a useful set of tools, such as elements on waste identification, source separation and collection and ways on improving those processes, guidance on waste logistics including implementation of good practices on transparency, tracking and tracing, as well as on stockpiling potential and proper stocking, but also on waste processing and treatment and preparation for re-use, as well as on the steps and requirements of quality waste audits including recommended waste audit processes. The Protocol also insists on the need to highlight, support and promote the companies that demonstrate their dedication to making a difference in the direction of preventing waste generation and applying the best available practices in managing CDW. Not only to reward companies acting to reduce the waste generated on their construction sites, but also to positively incentivise others to follow their example.

In the recent months, in light of the vast reforms of the regulatory landscape affecting construction stemming from the EU Green Deal, the Renovation Wave and the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission has undertaken the work of updating and consolidating the CDW Protocol and Guidelines. The main purpose is to update the protocol and guidelines in light of the evolution of technologies, practices and legislation, and to support the sector’s shift to a more circular economy. To that end, the external consultants RPA Europe and the Danish Technological Institute have been contracted to conduct a preliminary study.

The study aims at reviewing the guidance documents and assess the extent to which they still meet the needs of stakeholders and are aligned with current EU policies. Considering the diversity of CDW management practices across the Member States, the study will help prioritise the areas for revision and offer suggestions for improvement. The purpose is to lift up the CDW management bar set in 2016 based on the highest common denominators found today, by finding a balance between fulfilling circular economy ambitions without creating additional administrative burdens.

Supporting the revision of these important guidance documents, EBC is actively contributing by participating in the dedicated workshops to collect stakeholders’ feedback and experience. The latest workshop held on 3 May made the process enter its final stage, with the revision expected to lead to the merging of both the protocol and guidelines in one single document.

SMEs need practical solutions and guidance to improve waste management, based on sharing good practices and practicable processes. In this sense, the updated document should focus on translating the legally binding obligations stemming from existing EU rules and definitions into step-by-step procedures to assist construction SMEs.

The study is expected to be concluded by June 2024. Following the completion of the study and the contributions of construction sector stakeholders, the Commission is expected to proceed with updating and consolidating the document in the following months.

To read EBC’s position on the Circular Economy Action Plan, click here
To access the EU Construction and Demolition Waste Management Protocol (2016), click here
To access the Guidelines for the Waste Audits Before Demolition and Renovation works of buildings (2018), click here