Calls for better sorting of construction waste  

Construction waste needs better sorting in order to meet stricter requirements for material recycling. – Both the construction and the waste industry have potential for improvement, says Account & Development Manager in Geminor, Bjørn Håland.

The European Commission recently launched “The Green Deal”, a roadmap with an ambition of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The level of waste recovery from sectors such as the construction industry is a key part of this, as demand for sustainable solutions and material recycling is rapidly increasing.

This is a reality that players in the construction industry and the waste companies have to take seriously. Now we see a bigger focus on waste fraction quality, because this is no longer just waste – but raw materials, says Account & Development Manager at Geminor, Bjørn Håland.

– This is largely about sorting construction waste in the best way possible, and it needs to be implemented all the way from the construction sites to final delivery at the manufacturer or the WfE plant. If we get better routines in place, we will be able to increase the recycling volume of waste wood, and by this bringing us closer to a complete circular economy. The panelboard production is the best example of the most efficient waste wood recycling process Europe today. Adapting to a new and sustainable Europe will be a competitive advantage for many players in the construction industry, says Håland.

Greater focus on “hygiene”
But even though tougher requirements for recycling result in better sorting, the job can be improved throughout the value chain, says Håland.

Bjørn Håland at Geminor

– At both construction sites and waste companies, we often see a contamination of pure fractions. Biomaterial, MDF / fiberboards, contaminated wood, soil, rock or plaster often ends up with “cleaner” waste wood classified as A2-A3. This leads to poor quality, and a worst-case scenario is that the cargo ends up being rejected – regardless of whether the wood is for energy- or material recovery, says Håland.

There are also economic incentives for sorting better at the construction site, says Håland.

– Good sorting and minimizing the residual waste make it cheaper to send the waste wood from the building site. Sorting for recycling makes it cheaper for contractors, but also easier for waste producers to produce fractions of right quality for either recycling or energy, says Håland.

Great possibilities
Today we are experiencing large capacity and a market for waste wood, primarily in Eastern Europe. In the long term, much of the wood we burn for energy purposes should be used in material recycling and the circular economy. Thus, timber from buildings that are demolished will go back into new buildings or furniture – which is ideal.

– For the sake of sustainability, the transport should consist of bulk ships, which in turn demands good logistics solutions and storage capacity, concludes Account & Development Manager at Geminor, Bjørn Håland.