The construction sector is the most resource intensive industrial sector in the EU. It uses around 50% of the available primary raw materials, hence exhausting the natural resources, degrading environment and generating high costs to the business operators.
Although there is potential for the use of secondary raw materials from construction and demolition waste (CDW), this is far from becoming mainstream in Europe. For the time being, the sector uses only 4% of the recycled (CDW), although CDW represents the largest waste stream in the EU, accounting for 1/3 of the overall European waste.
Against this background, this situation is not dire in the whole of Europe. Some North-Western Europe (NWE) countries, namely Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands are leading the way in recycling CDW. Depending on the individual country, these rates range from 70-95%.
However, although waste recycling rates in NWE are impressive, business operators from the construction sector are still faced with challenges in placing their recycled products on the market. This is primarily due to the fact that there is still no niche market for concrete products made from the recycled materials. The lack of a niche market is accompanied by the lack of a clear-cut legislative framework in certain NWE states and inability to make precise cost estimations reflecting both social and economic costs of the production.
To make the most out of the available resources, SeRaMCo aims to replace primary raw materials with the high-quality materials recycled from CDW, e.g. concrete, bricks, tiles and ceramics (CBTC), in production of the cement and concrete products for use in NWE. To attain this goal, the project will:
- analyse and improve sorting of CDW, as a precondition for successful recycling;
- develop and test new concrete mixes and technologies for the production of concrete precast products (CPPs) made from the recycled CBTC;
- establish a market niche for CPPs, leading to the economic advantages for the CPP producers and generating new jobs in the construction sector.
SeRaMCo’s expected outputs are cement and CPPs from up to 100% recycled aggregates, comparable to conventional products both in terms of costs and quality, and ready for commercialization in NWE.
Prior to rolling-out across NWE and Europe as a whole, SeRaMCo will test its end-products in 3 pilot areas, namely City of Seraing (Belgium), City of Saarlouis (Germany) and Region of Moseille (France). Following the testing phase, previously developed business models, supporting the supply chain of the new market niche and establishing ecosystem with stakeholders active in the field, will be put in place.