The European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) has said that building material manufacturers can play a vital role in the move to a circular economy, but has urged the EU Commission not to duplicate existing measures that already tackle construction products.
The organisation also said that there needs to be greater acceptance of the use of recycled materials in construction projects.
"FIEC has always supported the concept of the Circular Economy and supports the Action Plan, which should help to address resistance in the market, to use recycled and reused raw materials. The construction industry is innovative and contractors already propose the use of secondary raw materials, but clients have to agree to accept them,” said FIEC vice president, Kjetil Tonnin.
According to the federation the conditions have to be right for a major shift in the way materials are sourced and used.
In particular, it said that sorting and recycling facilities must be available in close proximity to construction sites. It argued that these facilities must be able to deal with large quantities of potentially recyclable and reusable building materials, generated from building renovation and demolition projects.
In addition FIEC said the cost of processing such materials should not outweigh the environmental benefits and care must be taken to identify and dispose safely of dangerous substances, to reduce the risk to human health.
"We expect construction material producers to manufacture in future, with the life cycle of their products in mind, including of course end-of-life and recycling,” said Tonnin.
“In an ideal world, the existence of building materials that end up as waste, should be reduced to zero,” he continued. “Taking a pragmatic view, we expect that there will always be waste, but small steps can already be taken, for example to ensure that packaging is reduced to a minimum and that toxic substances are eliminated totally from new materials.”
However, the organisation added that new measures designed to improve the circular economy should not duplicate existing measures that already tackle construction products. It explained that its starting point is that the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and European standardisation already deal with most relevant characteristics of construction products, including their environmental and wider sustainability properties.
The FIEC added that a huge boost for the Circular Economy could be Building Information Modelling (BIM), which it said is already extensively used in certain countries.
BIM is said to bring together all parties in the construction value chain, now and in future, and significantly improve building demolition in terms of the environmental impact and ensure that renovation and maintenance are undertaken in a way that supports the objectives of the Circular Economy.
BIM will be the topic of the FIEC’s Annual Conference in 2016.
FIEC’s position paper on the Circular Economy Action Plan can be found HERE
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