Rotterdam targets construction waste in circular economy drive

Rotterdam targets construction waste in circular economy drive

The City of Rotterdam has an ambitious plan to become a fully circular city by 2050. It believes there are huge environmental, social and economic benefits to be harnessed from implementing a circular economy.

Its plan particularly highlights construction waste which it believes represents not just an environmental problem, but an opportunity. Just as Rotterdam is currently known as a world leader in modern architecture, it could also become renowned for making the most of the waste produced by the city’s heaving construction activity.

It sees huge potential benefits to harness the city’s construction waste, which in 2015 consisted of 393,783 tonnes of pulverized concrete, bricks, and other materials – the equivalent of 58 Erasmus Bridges.

With its harbour and strong culture of designers and architects, Rotterdam has a unique opportunity to become truly circular in the coming decades, closing loops on local, regional, national and international levels.

Towards a circular construction sector

The waste is not just represented in the raw materials itself, but in the energy and embodied impacts related to the production of the materials: concrete is the largest consumer of energy in the construction sector by mass.

The report commissioned for the City found that reducing the city’s 350,000 tons of construction waste is possible by building houses and offices:

  • in a way that allows for easy disassembly or renovation instead of demolition;
  • using sturdy, long-life materials;
  • reusing materials and components in a way that construction and demolition is connected.

If Rotterdam can achieve its goal of a fully circular economy, the equivalent of 58 Erasmus Bridges’ worth of waste from the construction industry detailed in the report won’t just be a colourful form of measurement, but an indication of just how many big, new projects the city can embark on with all the materials saved from the scrapheap.

Further information

October 26, 2018