How can obstacles to the stepping up of the recycling of inert waste from construction industry? The workshop 5 of the Assises des Déchets will focus on this waste, which represents an insufficiently exploited alternative mineral resource. The analysis of Pierre-Louis Durbourdeau*, the facilitator of the workshop, is provided here.
Construction waste represents a source of almost 300 million tons. The 2009-2013 Waste Plan, consistently with the 2008 Waste Framework Directive, has set an ambitious target to prevent, recycle and develop other methods to recover materials from this waste, for up to 70 % of the weight of such waste by 2020. Key challenges in the improvement of construction waste prevention and recovery are today related to inert waste produced by construction industry.
Reuse and recovery of inert waste represent a substantial potential of resource savings, in a context of increasingly difficult access to raw materials. In the French Ile-de-France Region, it is estimated that needs for aggregates will represent 38 million tons by 2020 compared to current consumption levels of 33 million tons, with a 45 % dependency rate for the region. Moreover, such recovery contributes to the reduction of nuisances and of air pollution, for instance by a reduction in transportations, as well as to the protection of landscapes or of biodiversity (decrease in numbers of waste storage centers, etc.).
Various tools have been developed to encourage prevention and recovery of material from waste produced by deconstruction or demolition sites, such as: tools to encourage good practices, construction diagnostics that have been mandatory since March 1 st , 2012, land planning through construction waste prevention and management plans to be developed or reviewed by mid-2013. The latter leverage should also help act on embanking waste, which often ends up being stored.
Significant obstacles still limit the recycling of waste from construction industry. They are, in the first place, economic obstacles. The cost of recycled materials is often higher than that of natural aggregates. A parallel waste treatment business has been flourishing as a result, in spite of the regulation in force, and at a very low cost. The conditions to control such business as well as tools for their recovery are still to be created: What will be the “economic instrument” mentioned in the Grenelle Conference, what tax avenues should be preferred, how should these challenges be incorporated to career schemes?... Obstacles are also in regulations and standards: What is the percentage of materials contained in recycled construction concrete supposed to be? They are also technical: How should the quality of recycled materials be controlled? And they are psychological – especially as far as project owners are concerned.
* Head of the Department of Risk and Nuisance Prevention Regional and Inter-departmental Directorate for Environment and Energy DRIEE - Ile-de-France Region.
Driee Île-de-France website : www.driee.ile-de-france.developpement-durable.gouv.fr