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United nations environment Programme

Global Waste
Management Outlook
C&D waste generation variety of materials it is important that the C&D waste
be segregated at source, with each stream managed as
Construction and demolition (C&D) waste is generated required.
during the construction, renovation or demolition of
buildings, roads, bridges, flyovers, subways, and so
on. These activities typically generate large quantities
of waste, although oftentimes data on C&D waste are
not collected routinely or consistently, so most published
figures are estimates which need to be interpreted with
caution. Such estimates include 8211 million tonnes of
C&D waste generated across the EU in 2012,2 77 million
tonnes in Japan, 33 million tonnes in China and 17 million
tonnes in India (all in 2010),3 and almost 7 million tonnes
in each of the fast developing cities of Dubai (2011)4
and Abu Dhabi (2013)5. C&D waste often represents the
largest proportion of total waste generated: for example,
C&D waste accounts for 34% of the urban waste
generated within OECD countries, as shown in Figure
3.1. The volume of C&D waste is also sharply increasing,
reflecting the pace of infrastructure development across
Baseline C&D waste management practices
the world.
When waste management controls were first introduced
C&D waste composition in the 1970s, the illegal dumping of C&D waste was
widespread. In many developed countries this continues
C&D waste not only contains a high proportion of inert to be an on-going problem, and in some developing
materials (e.g. concrete, masonry, asphalt), but also countries such as India and Jordan, illegal dumping of
wood, metal, glass, gypsum and plastics as well as C&D waste is approaching ‘epidemic’ proportions.6, 7
hazardous substances such as treated wood, lead paint This is a major problem as such illegal dumps act as
and asbestos from demolished old buildings. Due to the ‘magnets,’ in that their existence increases the likelihood
of other waste such as municipal solid waste or even
1 821 million tonnes refers to the latest available Eurostat figure, replacing an hazardous waste being dumped, which may pose
earlier one of 531 for the EU-27 in 2009 quoted in the BIO Intelligence Services a much more serious pollution risk. For this reason,
prepared for the European Commission (DG ENV) (cf. Annex A), which states,
“Data on C&D waste treatment suffer from the same gaps and inconsistencies the proper management of C&D waste is of critical
as generation data  ... C&D waste quantities are therefore likely to range importance within sound waste management overall.
between a total of 310 and 700 million tonnes per year in the EU-27.” See
2 Eurostat (2015). Waste statistics. See
As the bulk of C&D waste is inert, in the 1970s and
explained/index.php/Waste_statistics 1980s this waste was typically landfilled. Over time, C&D
3 Guah (2013), listed in Annex A, Chapter 3, Other waste streams, under Topic
Sheets, Construction and demolition waste
4 Environmental Center for Arab Towns (2013). Waste Management in Dubai. 6 Centre for Science and Environment (2014)
5 Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (2013). Towards Integrated Waste 7 SWEEP-Net (2010). Country report on the solid waste management in Jordan.
Management in Abu Dhabi: Annual Policy Brief. See See­
content/uploads/2014/03/Waste-PB-Eng.pdf reportJordan-En-mai2011.pdf

Construction and demolition waste 89

waste came to be diverted from landfilling to recycling, (including backfilling operations in which the waste
while more recently the focus has been on reuse and substitutes for other materials) by 2020,11 while the
prevention. Construction Resource Initiatives Council introduced a
series of targets, shown in the figure below, as a “global
C&D waste recycling call to action” for the entire building industry under the
international “Mission 2030” initiative.12, 13
For C&D waste, in principle, high recycling rates should
be relatively simple to achieve through segregating and Nevertheless, the primary driver within the construction
crushing inert materials not contaminated with hazardous industry for the increase in reuse and recycling is cost
waste. The materials can be used as aggregate or used control, since these practices will generally reduce
in the manufacture of, for example, concrete products project costs through reduced disposal costs, decreased
or paving blocks. To compete in this marketplace, items purchasing costs for new materials, and greater revenue
produced through the crushing and sieving of C&D earned from the sale of materials.14
wastes need to meet the specifications and criteria set
Interest in C&D waste recycling is increasing even
for ‘end of waste’.8
beyond developed countries. In the Gulf region, where
Other components of C&D waste can be recycled major infrastructure projects are on the rise but baseline
where markets exist for them. When it is clean and of recycling levels are low – just 4% in Qatar in 201215
good quality, untreated timber can be recycled into – several C&D waste recycling projects have been
particleboard or fibreboard, recycled to produce wood developed using the public-private partnership (PPP)
chips or alternatively used for energy recovery. Metals model. These projects include plants established in
such as aluminium and steel offer opportunities for Amman (Jordan), Kuwait, and Dubai and Sharjah (United
recycling and plastics can be reprocessed into many Arab Emirates) which have been developed in the last
different materials. decade and give revenue to their municipalities while
reducing the extraction of natural resources, increasing
The recycling rates of C&D waste range enormously life of landfills and generating employment.
among countries. The 2011 Bios report provides a ‘best
estimation’ of the 2008-09 EU average as in the range In countries such as China and India where urban
of 30 to 60%, with EU countries reporting recycling and infrastructure development and re-development are
recovery rates as high as over 90% and as low as 10%.9 expanding rapidly, C&D waste recycling has become a
In the US in 2009 approximately 40% of the C&D waste business opportunity for the private sector, but with C&D
generated was reused, recycled or sent to EfW plants.10 recycling rates estimated at 5% in China (2013)16 and
50% in India (2014)17, there is still some way to go to fulfil
Targets have been set across a number of countries that potential.
and cities. For example, the current EU target is for a
minimum of 70% of non-hazardous C&D waste to be
reused, recycled or to undergo other material recovery

35% 50% 75% Zero waste

by 2015 by 2020 by 2025 to landfill
by 2030

11 European Commission (2015). Waste: Construction and Demolition Waste.
12 Gratton (2013)
14 USEPA (2000)
15 Ayoub, N., F. Musharavati, and H. Gabbar (2014). A Future Prospect for
Domestic Waste Management in Qatar. Presented at International Conference
on Earth, Environment and Life Science (EELS-2014). 23-24 December 2014,
Dubai (UAE).
8 See Sections 4.3.2 and 4.3.5. waste-recycling-in-china-the-climate-group-releases-new-report/
9 European Commission (2015). Waste: Construction and Demolition Waste. 17 Ghosh, S., S. Ghosh and A. Aich (2011). Rebuilding C&D Waste Recycling Efforts in India. See
10 USEPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (2009). Deconstruction. volume-12/issue-5/features/rebuilding-c-d-waste-recycling-efforts-in-india. html

90 Global Waste Management Outlook

India’s first C&D recycling plant in New Delhi18

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi, working in cooperation with the private sector, established a C&D recycling plant with the
aims of diverting waste from landfill and developing the market for C&D waste. The plant, a public-private partnership in operation
since the end of 2009, had an original design capacity of 500 tonnes per day that was expanded in 2014 to 2000 tonnes per day.
Incoming material is inspected and weighed. Plastics, metals, wood and certain other materials are separated out by both manual
and mechanical means. The remaining waste is again separated, this time sorted into whole bricks for internal use and sale, large
pieces of concrete and mixed C&D waste that is managed using dry processing to crush and grade the concrete and C&D waste and
also wet processing for mineral processing and washing. The plant recovers products such as sand, stone and ready-mix concrete
and uses these to manufacture other value-added products such as paving blocks and tiles, kerbstones and bricks. By early 2015,
the plant had sold well over a million tonnes of recycled products.

Prevention and reuse of C&D waste

The recycling of C&D waste is not the ultimate objective. Thus, high recycling targets can be counter-productive. By the 2000s,
in high-income countries, one common source of waste was the over-ordering of bricks and other materials for building sites, in
order to avoid any delays in supply. Recycling targets provided a perverse incentive to crush and recycle any leftover raw materials,
rather than to return and reuse them at another building site. This is an example of a simple waste prevention measure which pays
for itself very quickly.19 Another example slightly more complex is the controlled dismantling rather than the wholesale dismantling
of buildings, so that more components can be salvaged for reuse. An example of deconstruction can be found in Topic Sheet 4 on
waste prevention.

18 Text prepared from information provided directly by IEISL in June 2015, and from published material. See
volume-15/issue-1/features/going-live-india-s-first-c-d-recycling-plant.html and
19 Lundesjo, G. (2011) Using Construction Consolidation Centres to reduce construction waste and carbon emissions. Guidance: Construction Logistics. WRAP. http://www.

Construction and demolition waste 91