Circular Economy: Construction and Demolition waste ~ Where do I go?
In Australia, 40% of overall waste generated accounts to the waste of construction and demolition (C&D). Recycling this waste seemed to be an appropriate solution at the time to address this issue. However, there seems to be a lack of awareness of the practicalities of this issue and recently the media shed some light on this problem.
Landfill waste levies i.e making people pay for the amount of waste they sent to landfills, seemed to be working when the recycling for C & D waste was steadily increasing. However when Queensland removed this levy in 2012, NSW contractors were relieved as they could save money by transporting the waste to a landfill rather than processing the waste for recycling in NSW itself.
Why is it that they are able to save money by sending the waste to an interstate compared to recycling on their own? Another major challenge is to create a market for the recycled products and give them a second life.
What we need is a whole system perspective which can decouple the economic activity at all scales and a strategy that can shift the current linear business model to a long term adapative model. What we need is a circular economy.
How does it work?
Resources can be fully recycled till the end of its life when we architects, engineers , manufacturers and active stakeholders come together to design and manage our buildings keeping its disassembly in mind. Buildings can be made using less virgin materials by replacing it with alternative recyclable materials. By designing, using and recovering the resources we can extend its life cycle to meet the needs of the future.
Leasing of products and its maintenance can create a long term relationship with the clients by retaining the products value. Refurbishment and resale of recovered products can create a circular revenue for the manufacturers and suppliers. While these recovered products can be the building blocks of the other products.
Sharing of resources among the construction industries is highly encouraged by the circular economy approach. A shift in the mindset is significant to reduce the C&D waste and a shift to a circular economy is needed for a sustainable future.