Material recycling in the construction industry

By 12 March 2021October 31st, 2022No Comments

In April 2016, the Union nationale des industries de carrières de matériaux de construction (Unicem), the Union nationale des producteurs de granulats (UNPG) and the Syndicat du béton prêt à l’emploi (SNBPE) signed an agreement with the State: Commitment to Green Growth (ECV). This approach included three areas for improvement, namely the collection, recycling and recovery of inert construction waste. Since 2018, French mineral material producers have announced that the 70% recycling target set by the European Union has been reached. In concrete terms, in France, 211 million tonnes of inert waste are produced each year, and 148 million tonnes are entitled to a second life.

This practice of recycling construction materials has several advantages:

  • Savings on supply for builders
  • Reducing the environmental impact of the manufacture of materials
  • Guarantee of the traceability of raw materials

In this context, let’s explore these benefits further.

 Reducing the environmental impact
on the manufacture of materials


Introduced by the 2020 law on energy transition, and in parallel with public policies in favour of the fight against climate change, it is no longer possible to deny the need for a recycling sector dedicated to the construction industry. The aim of this sector is to remove the major difficulty linked to the specificity of the trades and their regionalisation because depending on the case, it is not the same actors who intervene on the same lot. This will be mandatory in 2022.

By including the so-called “polluter pays” clauses, France, where only 2% of PVC windows are recycled, intends to follow in the footsteps of Germany, which has forced manufacturers to find solutions in the formulation of plastic raw materials, to avoid a sales restriction. Thanks to this recycling of materials, it is undeniable that the environmental impact is reduced, for example, because plastic materials are mainly made with oil, the cost of which represents an important and ever-increasing part, and which corresponds to about 5% of the annual extraction.

Savings on supply for manufacturers


Although waste separation is not a regulatory obligation, it is strongly encouraged in order not to incur additional costs. Therefore, sorting this waste is essential to maximise its value in its second life and thus reduce costs.

The reuse of wastesuch as windows, certainly requires more handling to avoid destruction but saves time on supply from one site to another.

Alsorecycling allows the limitation of the quantity of waste sent to treatment centres and therefore saves, or amortises the supply of materials for construction.

Guarantee of the traceability of raw materials


Thanks to the inclusion of the process in a circular economy, it is easier to monitor the traceability of materials in the sense understood by ISO:9000. In this respect, the coupled management of flows implies a follow-up of the physical flow thanks to the information flow. In order to benefit from this advantage, it is possible to define the characteristics of a total traceability system for its materials:

– To be able to locate the physical flows instantaneously (tracking). For example, this is the principle of the RFID chipbased on radio identification technology, which is able to indicate the position of the equipped element at any time.
– Being able to reconstruct the history of flows overtime or a posteriori. This history of materials is generally not reconstructed continuously but through discontinuous readings.

In order to fulfil this objective, a traceability system must therefore fulfil the following 2 functions.

– Capture information at the source. (location, change of holder, characteristics of the flows, intervention on the flows, etc.)
– To memorise and guarantee the information,

If traceability must allow an information flow to be associated with a physical flow, its final objective is to be able to consolidate and control all of this data to ensure the proper functioning of a material collection and transformation process, and to help the material transformation chain, via the transmission of data.

To find out more, do not hesitate to ask for the replay of our webinar on materials formulation for the construction industry.

BASSETTI, with its Technical Expertise Management, is committed to implementing methods, tools and IT processes to structure, archive and disseminate this high added value knowledge within the company.

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