Whereas resources are getting scarce and construction needs are increasing, construction and public work waste recovery offer prospects for the future. Elected officials and players of the sector met in the Assises Nationales des Déchets to debate on the following issue: “What new territorial dynamic for construction and public work waste?”.
Earthwork material, demolition of buildings or structures, asphalt aggregates... 250 million tons of waste are produced every year in France, 60% of which are not covered by any recycling schemes.
To remedy this situation, the ambition of the national waste reduction and recovery plan 2014-2020 is to reach a recovery rate of 70% by 2020. It is ambitious indeed, but more modest than in other European countries like Belgium, Austria or Germany, where 85 to 90% recovery targets have already been set. From 2017 onwards, the French state plans to go further by obliging waste producers to organise the recycling of their materials. To that end, the energy transition law stipulates that a critical size should be determined for treatment facilities or that road construction companies should be obliged to integrate materials derived from recycling into their structures (50% minimum in 2017).
Are reuse schemes ready, however, in local territories? The ongoing discussions on departmental and regional construction waste plans have been emphasising the necessary engagement of clients in the review of the Code des Marchés Publics (the code governing public works) (2016), for the improvement of waste management. Many challenges still lie ahead in terms of enhancing the territorial coverage with professional disposal centres, improving waste stream management, making waste more attractive as a “product”, and making sure recycling is preferred to burial...
Inspiration is also to be found in innovation, like in the project “Gypsum to gypsum” presented in this workshop, dealing with an experimentation conducted by a group of players of the sector to devise an “ideal” economic model for construction and public work waste recycling. This project, in which the sorting of materials, the integration of recycled materials and the evolution of constructive systems are taken into account, has allowed settling issues as yet unsolved, and might serve as a model at European scale.