Circular economy

Constructions, Italy must (and can) become more sustainable

Questo post è disponibile anche in: Italian

According to “Osservatorio Recycle”, Italy has a material recovery capacity of 10% against a capacity of 90% in the Netherlands.

Less quarries and less pollution with a sustainable construction industry based on circular economy principles. These are the suggestions of the first report of “Osservatorio Recycle”, an observatory promoted by the environmental association Legambiente to study and narrate the innovation process that can be observed in the sector of the production of recycled aggregates. Recently this process was further encouraged by the European Directive 2008/98/CE: the goal of the Directive is to reach a recycling capacity of 70% of the construction and demolition waste by 2020.

According to the report, every year in Italy almost 45 million tons of inert waste are produced. Italy has 2,500 active pits and over 15,000 inactive pits. Most of these are old sand and gravel pits. In total, more than 62.5% of the quarried material consists of inert material.

The current recovery capacity in Italy is just above 10% (although there are significant differences among the Italian regions, with a few excellent examples to prove that recovery is totally feasible). With respect to the other EU countries, the Netherlands set the best example with a recovery capacity of 90%, while the second and the third place go to Belgium (87%) and Germany (86.3%).

Reducing the extraction of raw materials is positive not only for the environment, but also for the economy: it allows the development of a new green production system that can create new jobs, sustain research and innovation, and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is an important aspect to highlight – declared Edoardo Zanichini, the Vice President of Legambiente – today there are no obstacles, in terms of technology, performance or economy, that prevent us from using recycled materials in the construction industry. Our report brings many examples of construction sites and technical documents that already successfully implemented these innovations. These examples prove that recycled materials and materials coming from the recovery of aggregates are absolutely competitive both on the economic level and on the technical level.”

In order to make way to new perspectives, Legambiente has several proposals: first of all, technical documents should be modified with the introduction of performance targets. The European Directive should be implemented by gradually increasing the obligatory percentage of recycled aggregates to be used in the construction industry. The few excellent experiences that are already operational in Italy should be replicated on a national scale: a great example is the region of Veneto, that produces an average of 5,500,000 tons of construction and demolition waste per year and recovers more than 80%, using it for several purposes, such as road infrastructure.

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