Flemish know-how in high-value recycling and circular building economy high on agenda in Lisbon during state visit

For years, the Flemish Construction Confederation has been promoting the cradle to cradle recycling of building materials and soil excavation in Flanders in order to ensure the use of safe, recycled materials in the construction industry. Its tagline - Construction, Energy and Environment - is reflected in initiatives such as high-quality excavation of soil and the selective tracking of demolition and construction waste (CDW) as a raw material that can be used for new applications. These issues will be discussed in detail at the water and waste management seminar taking place in Lisbon during the state visit of the King and Queen of Belgium to Portugal.

Regulations concerning the reuse of excavated soil in Flanders and Grondbank, a tracking system for excavated soil established by the Flemish Construction Confederation (VCB), have been around for more than 15 years. This accumulated experience has contributed greatly to the development of Tracimat, a non-profit organisation which introduced a management system for tracking construction and demolition waste in august 2018. By using the Tracimat system, construction industry players in Flanders can now distinguish 'low environmental risk' CDW from 'high environmental risk' CDW. This sophisticated tracking system based on a demolition inventory and demolition certificate mean that intensive selective recycling is now possible. The construction industry has long been known for re-using a significant proportion of construction and demolition waste, but now the quality of the CDW can also be guaranteed. As a CDW management organisation, Tracimat can guarantee the quality of CDW for re-use. This is a win-win for both the construction sector and society, since the selective recycling of CDW will in the future mean less demand for primary raw materials.

The Tracimat system is in line with the EU's Waste Framework Directive, which sets a goal for the re-use, recycling and/or recovery of 70% of construction and demolition waste by 2020. Moreover, the EU Construction and Demolition Waste Management Protocol (2016) mentions Tracimat as a benchmark thanks to its approach on the monitoring of CDW.

The Flemish Construction Confederation is keen to share its insights and best practices internationally as this system will close the loop of the circular construction economy. On the other hand, one will have to keep in mind that the simple adoption of this system in other EU Member States will not be easy as the Tracimat system is based on the local situation in Flanders: population density, scarcity of space, regional legislation, etc. have made it possible for the Tracimat system to be implemented. In future, the VCB will also focus on intensive urban mining so that other industries can also be supplied with recycled materials from the construction industry. By doing so, we will be able to take high level circular economy to the next level.