Across the world, raw materials become a scarcer resource. In North-West Europe, the construction sector uses 50 % of all raw materials and produces one third of all waste in the region. Although 70 % of waste are recovered, only a low percentage undergoes a high-quality recycling which allows the reuse of these materials in building constructions. The researchers and industrial partners of the publicly funded SeRaMCo project – Secondary Raw Materials for Concrete Precast Products – are researching on methods to reuse construction and demolition waste (CDW) in the cement and precast concrete productions. New processes for effective treatment of materials have been investigated so far, and different methods to reuse the materials were tested. As a result, two new cement mixes containing recycled sands were developed. Furthermore, new concrete mixes containing coarse recycled aggregates have been developed and a dozen of innovative precast products were designed.
The Technical University of Kaiserslautern is the lead partner of the project. TU Kaiserslautern collaborate with 10 universities and business partners from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Netherlands to raise the materials efficiency in the construction sector.
- In 2015, the European precast industry generated €24 billion of revenue. These figures – since they are usually coupled with the economic trends – will have surpassed in the last years. Should circular CPPs take 5% of the market share they would represent a total of more than € 1,2 billion per year. With a market share of 20% revenues of € 4,8 billion could be generated annually.
- The project’s aim is to enable the use of annually 13 million tons of recycled aggregates and sands in concrete precast products and cement in North-West Europe by 2030. To achieve this goal we are developing short, medium and long-term business models. The short-term business models are showing the goals that are likely to be reached until 2020: conditions are on-site CDW recycling, re-use of on-site precast concrete remains.
- Until now within our project 150 tons recycled aggregates produced by Tradecowall in Belgium and 580 tons produced in Agrégats du Centre in France were used to produce 5137 tons of raw meal in Créchy plant of VICAT (SeRaMCO partner) with incorporation rate of 14%. That means the increase material recovery has been achieved until now is 730 tons. SeRaMCo partner Vicat is working on the next trial of the cement which will be produced using mixed aggregates.
- A break-through of new circular products and processes into the construction market has still not happened at a larger economic scale due to the relatively low price of raw materials and products, persistent norms and habits, inadequate pricing of environmental use, and a lack of environmental laws and regulations.
- Governments can accelerate the transition to a circular economy by giving incentives to businesses to invest into promising new technologies and by including sustainability requirements for secondary raw materials in their public tenders. Without these measurements, a drastically reduced use of raw materials in NWE will be difficult to achieve within the next years.
- In our current economic system, the prevalent business practice and models focus on economic short-term profitability alone, and do not consider environmental or social impacts. The construction sector in North-West-Europe operates in a particularly competitive and challenging yet conservative environment with many stakeholders involved in the value chain which makes more complex innovative processes difficult to implement, especially when they are not financially supported. Current available technologies for the mobile upcycling of CDW have not yet reached major market shares which may keep the production costs higher than those using primary raw materials.
- Technische Universität Kaiserslautern – Germany
- PREFER – Belgium
- Beton – Betz GmbH – Germany
- Vicat – France
- Schuttelaar & Partners – Belgium
- TRADECOWALL SCRL – Belgium
- Université de Liège – Belgium
- University of Luxembourg – Luxembourg
- Université de Lorraine – France
- Delft University of Technology – Netherlands
- Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility, and Urban and Country Planning – France
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