the recycling race is accelerating

Building companies do not neglect the value of recycling. This sector of activity lays around 46 million tonnes of waste per year. 282538003/Great Warszawski –

FIGARO DEMAIN – At first skeptical, entrepreneurs in the sector have converted to the recovery of materials. In 2023, they move up a gear.

reuse building materials destroyed to build new ones. Nothing very new about that! Lovers of old stones know that this common sense of the builder was already customary in the time of fortified castles. With this notable difference that today’s concrete blocks, welded mesh and formwork wood cannot be reused as easily as yesterday’s freestone and oak beams.

However, construction companies do not neglect the value of recycling. And for good reason. This sector of activity lays around 46 million tonnes of waste per year, i.e. 7 million tonnes more than the household waste. “Attitudes have changed a lot, notes Hervé de Maistre, president of the recycling eco-organization Valobat: ten years ago, they said that recycling was both complicated and an economic aberration. Today, they see that waste is becoming strategic. The majority of construction sites have converted to recovery, and the sector has adopted a virtuous approach.” According to the leader, three quarters of the building materials would already be valued. At the top of the ranking are metals, largely recovered for their high value. Wood waste is also finely chopped to become particle board. What cannot be recovered is directed towards an energy recovery sector.

Read alsoThese buildings that prove that recycling is the future of building

As for the concrete, it is often crushed and reused by public works to form road embankments. “A quarter of the materials are not recycled and go to landfill. That’s 10 million tons. It is enormous, deplores Hervé de Maistre, we must step up our efforts to move towards 100% recycling.”

Towards new materials

To this end, the government, under cover of the Agec law (anti-waste for a circular economy) has demanded the establishment of an extended producer responsibility (REP) sector. On the principle of polluter pays, the manufacturer, or the first seller on the market of a construction material, must ume the cost of its recovery and recycling.

For this, since May, it has been paying an eco-contribution to one of the four approved recovery and recycling organizations, such as Valobat, which are now responsible for better organizing the sector. “In reality, the manufacturer will defer the amount of the eco-contribution on the sale of the material, and the construction companies that will buy it will include it in part in the amount of the work invoiced to the end customer, explains Franck Perraud, vice-president of the French Building Federation (FFB). For now, the amount is relatively small. However, we are convinced that it will rise sharply from 2024”, he predicts.

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For their part, recovery and recycling eco-organizations have their work cut out for them. They will have to ensure that the territory is sufficiently meshed with collection points so that construction companies are sure to find one less than 10 kilometers away in urban areas and less than 20 kilometers away in rural areas. They will also be responsible for the recovery of illegal deposits. Finally, they will have to ensure that the conditions for accepting waste will be the same everywhere. “That’s not the case todayures Franck Perraud. Construction companies are waiting to know if they will be forced to refine the sorting of their waste, under penalty of it being refused by recycling centers. Despite these unknowns, everyone agrees that these measures are a good thing.»

Finally, some eco-organizations ure that they will increase research and development around the recycling of multi-component materials, which are more complex to recycle than others, and encourage manufacturers as much as possible to turn to the use of single-component materials. The era of freestones and oak beams remains a long way off. The century marks the end of architectural anachronism. Standards oblige, the reuse of a material, as it is, represents less than 1% of the recovery…

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