There is an extensive and so far unexploited potential for recycling waste as part of new construction materials.
Reutilisation and recycling of waste is an area that is becoming increasingly popular in building material research. At DTU Civil Engineering (Technical University of Denmark), the research in a focus area called ZeroWaste Byg, is led by Professor Lisbeth M. Ottosen.
During the recent years, ZeroWaste Byg has developed from a focus area in its tentative beginnings to an area that is now producing research and findings that connect several different disciplines. There are now a number of doctoral and student projects dealing with research in the area as well as several collaboration projects with public authorities and companies.
Unexploited potential should be explored
The seminar “Secondary resources and their use in construction”, held in Copenhagen in September 2016, provided an overview of the development in the field of recycling and reutilisation of resources in construction. The presentation on the seminar covered waste management, development of sustainable concrete and architectural possibilities of reutilisation and recycling of construction materials.
“A better understanding of the habits and processes will give the various professional groups working with the area the opportunity to challenge each other and thus learn a lot from the different disciplinary approaches that are involved in the construction process, including demolition and recycling.”
“It was incredibly inspiring to hear the very different approaches to reutilisation and recycling presented during the seminar. It became clear to me that there are many unexploited opportunities for cooperation that we must take a closer look at. We can do better when it comes to presenting recycling habits and processes to other professional groups. A better understanding of the habits and processes will give the various professional groups working with the area the opportunity to challenge each other and thus learn a lot from the different disciplinary approaches that are involved in the construction process, including demolition and recycling,” is the assessment from Lisbeth M. Ottosen.
Recycling should be meaningful
One point that recurred in several of the presentations at the seminar was that recycling should be meaningful. There is no reason to recycle materials just because it is possible. Recycling and reutilisation get really interesting when the reused materials add to the value of new building materials and thereby improve them.
One example could be to reduce C02 emissions during concrete manufacturing by replacing part of the cement with recycled material. Or to create added architectural value by partially or total reuse of materials with specific characteristics that are not found in freshly made materials. This point is supported by Lisbeth M. Ottosen.
“It is important to emphasize that reutilisation is not the same as depositing waste in building materials. We work to transform waste into valuable resources and using the recycled material as components that ultimately make the building materials better and more sustainable”.
Adapted from article by Sabina Askholm Larsen, DTU News
Get introduced to Lisbeth’s work: Lisbeth M. Ottosen, transforming waste into valuable building materials