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According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the construction sector is still behind on recycling and risks to lose a thousand billion dollars.
The construction industry is the biggest consumer of raw materials in the world and to date less than a third of the waste it produces is recycled. A circular approach – such as the reusing of street paving rubble and wooden floor covering waste – could revolutionise the future of the sector. This is the conclusion of the World Economic Forum report “Shaping the future of construction: a breakthrough in mindset and technology”. “[The circular economy’s] potential for innovation, job creation and economic development is huge: estimates indicate a trillion-dollar opportunity – explains World Economic Forum’s Dr. Michael Max Buehler – Today, construction processes are still highly fragmented […]. For example, it is estimated that 54 percent of demolition waste in Europe is still landfilled and most recycling occurs in low-value applications. A key reason for these inefficiencies is fragmented knowledge of material composition or value”.
“Individual companies have serious transformative opportunities now, by exploiting new technologies and materials – added Santiago Castagnino, co-author of the report – If you also optimize the planning and the processes, you could easily end up cutting costs by 15 percent and reducing the completion time by as much as 30 percent”.
According to the report, new digital technologies such as 3D printing, robots for dangerous work, drones and sensors will increase the productivity and improve safety and respect for the environment.
3D printing, in particular, could allow productivity gains of up to 80%, in addition to reducing waste. The report mentions the example of a project on 3D-printed steel components, thanks to which the company Arup achieved a 75% weight reduction and 40% reduction in materials compared with traditional production methods.