construction waste

German construction industry exceeds EU targets for disposal of mineral construction waste

A study shows that around 90 percent of mineral construction waste in Germany is recycled in an environmentally compatible manner. In road construction, for example, almost all construction waste is recycled.

The Kreislaufwirtschaft Bau initiative reports a "success story" in the disposal of mineral construction waste, with European recycling targets being far exceeded. After all, mineral construction waste is almost completely recycled. This reduces the burden on landfills and conserves primary raw materials. 

In 2018, the construction industry generated just under 219 million tons of mineral construction waste. However, at more than 196 million tons, around 90 percent was recycled in an environmentally sound manner. "With a recycling rate of just under 95 percent overall for fractions excluding excavated soil, for which the EU Waste Framework Directive calls for at least 70 percent recycling, the initiative meets much more ambitious targets," explains Michael Basten, chief executive of the German Federal Association of Building Materials - Stone and Soil. 

For example, the latest monitoring report of the Kreislaufwirtschaft Bau initiative shows that mineral construction waste in Germany is almost completely recycled and thus kept in the material cycle in an environmentally sound manner. "This relieves the burden on landfills and conserves primary raw materials," says Basten. "Over 12 percent of the demand for aggregates is now met by recycled construction materials." Recycling is particularly high in road construction. According to the report, about 98 percent of demolition material is processed locally and reintroduced as construction material.

Construction industry criticized: Politics puts the brakes on recycled building materials

"The demand for recycled materials, especially in public tenders, is still too low," explains Rainer von Borstel, General Manager of the Association of Construction Industry Contractors in Hesse. This is because construction and demolition waste occupies the largest share of waste statistics. Although 90 percent of this waste is recycled, only 30 percent of it is recycled building material. According to the Hessisches Statistisches Landesamt, 14 million tons of construction and demolition waste were generated in Hesse alone in 2018. However, only four million tons of this was recycled.

Now the public sector is called upon to set an example by excluding the use of recycled building materials in its tenders. In practice, this unfortunately happens far too often and contractors are thus unable to offer these building materials or reuse the waste on site.