RPS Technical Director Warren Phelan spoke at the recent European Commission event on the publication of the new EU Construction & Demolition Waste (CDW) Management Protocol. The event was organised by DG Grow and held in the European Commission Offices in Dublin.
He discussed the ‘Current Position and Challenges in the Construction and Demolition Industry in Ireland’ and spoke about the radical change in the construction industry during his time which saw unprecedented growth and then a severe recession for the country and the sector and recovery in recent years. The profile of construction and demolition waste arising mirrored the market during this period, reaching highs of almost 18 million tonnes in 2007 and falling to 3 million tonnes by 2012.
Based on volume, construction and demolition (C&D) waste is the largest waste stream in the EU. Proper management of C&D waste and recycled materials (including the correct handling of hazardous waste) can have major benefits in terms of sustainability. It can also provide major benefits for the EU construction and recycling industry, as it boosts demand for C&D recycled materials. A large proportion (over 80%) of C&D waste is recyclable but the average recovery rate for the EU28 is below 50%.
Warren’s presentation touched on the vulnerabilities around the management of CDW which currently exist in Ireland. In the last 12 months the early closure of two facilities in the Greater Dublin Area left building & civil contractors with no outlet for significant quantities of soil wastes. Thousands of tonnes of processed recycled aggregates are unable to be used in the market due to a lack of ‘end of waste’ criteria from the EU. Such barriers must be addressed if a viable recycling industry in the market is to take hold.
In his synopsis Warren called for a National CDW Plan to be put in place to co-ordinate the many policy measures, regulatory requirements and initiatives and provide the sector with clear direction.
Summary of the Protocol:
To turn the challenge of CDW into an economic, environmental and social opportunity, experts from the industry and the European Commission have drawn up the ‘EU Construction and Waste Demolition Protocol’.
The overall aim of this Protocol is to increase confidence in the C&D waste management process and trust in the quality of C&D recycled materials. This will be achieved by:
Improved waste identification, source separation and collection
Improved waste logistics
Improved waste processing
Appropriate policy and framework conditions