One of the UK’s biggest plasterboard producers has said an EU attempt to help construction companies re-use more material represented “a missed opportunity”.
EU recycling targets ‘a missed opportunity’
Speaking after the European Commission released details of a new “circular economy package” earlier this week, Siniat – formerly Lafarge Plasterboard – said bureaucrats should have taken the chance to impose mandatory building audits to improve materials recycling.
The commission has also attracted criticism for lowering previous binding EU recycling and landfill targets in the new package.
The household waste recycling target has been reduced from 70 per cent to 65 per cent, while a zero landfill target by 2030 has now become a 10 per cent target. For construction and demolition, the draft proposal has retained a target of 70 per cent material recovery by 2020.
But Siniat head of sustainability Steve Hemmings has said more could have been done to ensure construction companies meet or exceed these targets.
“This announcement sees the EU recognise construction as central to a fully functioning circular economy and the support for the sorting of gypsum appears for the first time in legislation,” he said.
“However, it is disappointing to see that building audits prior to a building’s deconstruction have not been made mandatory. This is a missed opportunity that would have helped our industry to recover and re-use more materials so they can be a key component in the manufacture of new building products.
“If we are really serious about the circular economy, deconstruction audits should be compulsory when a building is being dismantled.
“This is required to drive a dismantling culture and the recovery of valuable materials. Hand in hand with this we need to design, specify and build for recyclability.”
European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen, who is responsible for business, said: “We will remove barriers that make it difficult for businesses to optimise their resource use and we will boost the internal market for secondary raw materials.”
But European Federation of Waste Management president David Palmer-Jones criticised the proposals for their weak measures to support a market for secondary raw materials.
He said: “If Europe truly believes in the wider economic, environmental and social advantages of a circular economy, it must recognise that market forces and supply-side measures alone will not deliver it.”
“Europe’s economy can only be truly circular if strong markets are available for the secondary raw materials the recycling and reprocessing sectors produce. The current markets are unstable and disincentivise secondary raw material production and uptake by Europe’s industry”.