Flemish expertise in circular construction attracts international interest

Flanders leads the world in reusing soil and demolition waste

Flanders has had a comprehensive system for ensuring high-quality earthworks for over ten years now. On top of that, the Flemish construction industry reuses 95% of its construction and demolition waste. That is quite an achievement - and our international colleagues seem to think so too! Delegations from France, Canada and the Basque Country have brought in Flemish expertise to help them with their projects. One such project is the work on the Paris ring road, which will generate some 50 million m³ of soil. How should all that soil be managed, and who is responsible for what? These are the kind of questions our colleagues ask us.

So what is behind the excellent performance of the Flemish earthworks system? The answer is simple: in Flanders, contractors are responsible for reusing the soil they excavate. In other words, the polluter - the party that may have contaminated the soil - pays. With that in mind, contractors are especially careful about soil supply and removal. The sector is also committed to developing a market for - preferably high-quality - applications for excavated soil. Put another way, contractors themselves are looking for ways to create economic added value and get involved in the circular economy,

according to Liesbet Van Cauwenberghe, expert at Grondbank and Tracimat.

Clean sand as the end product of the soil washing process
Clean sand as the end product of the soil washing process

Clean waste streams for high-quality recycling, thanks to Tracimat

The construction sector is not only the biggest producer (by volume) of waste products, in Flanders it is also the biggest user of recycled waste products. One area for attention is the uncontrolled mixing of hazardous waste in construction materials, which makes it difficult for the materials to have a second or third life as a recycled product. Moreover, enough high-quality applications for recycled granulates need to be found to compensate for the scarcity of construction materials and primary minerals.

The Flemish Construction Confederation founded Tracimat to address these concerns. Tracimat is a demolition management organisation that certifies the selective demolition process and uses a traceability system to check what happens to the waste generated during demolition works. Its aim is to ensure clean waste streams/materials that can then be used for high-quality applications.