Applying the principles of CE in the context of concrete: A review

Yana Konstantinova Ramsheva

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


Construction and demolition wastes (C&DW) are considered a major waste issue within the European Union (EU), representing a third of all the waste generated in Europe, or approximately 800 million tons per year. One third of the C&DW consists of concrete waste. In line with EU ambitions to move towards a more sustainable economy, extending product life-time, reuse, recycling and other ways for material recovery are strongly encouraged. Experts from both academia and businesses suggest applying the notion of circular economy (CE) is a way to underline the large environmental and economic benefits that reuse and recycling of concrete could actually bring to the industry. However, reuse and recycling rates of concrete vary significantly within the EU, with an average rate of between 30%-60%. In Denmark, for example, almost all end-of-life concrete is considered waste and used either as road sub-base, or as other lower value applications. There is still a large untapped potential for alternative applications of recovered concrete linking to the inner CE loops. Through a literature review and a two-year collaboration with a Danish cement producer, three strategies have been identified as having the largest potential for enabling CE in the context of concrete. The three strategies are recycling crushed concrete as aggregate for new concrete, reusing complete concrete elements in new buildings and extending lifetime of concrete structures. Some of the main barriers for enabling those strategies are also highlighted. This paper concludes with emphasizing the importance of collaboration between actors along the whole value chain of concrete for moving towards a more CE. The outcomes of this study are expected to feed new insights on the relevance of rethinking current practices of handling products at their end-of-life, as well as suggest ways to design and implement CE principles in the context of construction materials and buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production : Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption
EditorsJordi Segalàs, Boris Lazzarini
Number of pages9
Place of PublicationBarcelona
PublisherInstitute for Sustainability Science and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Publication date2019
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-09-16892-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventThe European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production: Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption - OPC University, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 15 Oct 201918 Oct 2019


ConferenceThe European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production
LocationOPC University


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