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Denne idé er en del af The Circular Construction Challenge – Rethink Waste

1. oktober 2018

There is a large financial and environmental benefit in recycling of building materials – thus there only exits few businesses providing and designing from recycled building materials. This idea is to develop a B2B circular business based on a platform that offers building materials and match of all providers and suppliers in the value chain (building owners, contractors, demolition companies, designers, architects, craftsmen and others). To be able to create the necessary volume and quality REBUILD will develop standards for collecting, sorting, classifying, testing and certifying recyclable building materials – especially wood and wood-based materials but also other materials as for instance textiles for insulation. Thereby REBUILD becomes an active bank of recyclable building material by creating a circular business model and support circular business for the building industry mobilizing a large fraction of waste to high value and recycle valuable resources to the benefit of the natural environment and living environment that buildings provide to people. In recycling of building materials, a focus of non-chemical additives that are unhealthy to people is necessary and possible since old materials are cleaner that new materials – thereby a cleaner and healthier indoor climate is created compared to some of the new buildings put up today.  

There is a new trend to restore, renovate and preserve buildings instead of building new; as well as including recycled and recyclable materials in tenders from large building owners in Denmark and Globally.

Consumers new interest in recycled and used housing and building materials is increasing in the private and in B2B sector. The market for reused furniture’s and other decoration materials has 10-dobbled over the last five years in Denmark. It has become exclusive to recycle material to such an extent that prices sometimes exceed the prices of new. Many of the old classical building materials are of significantly higher and cleaner quality than the new materials sold today, which is why there is a market in refurbishment for renovation projects, new buildings, etc. This is seen from the emerge of a new group of companies in the construction industry, such as: Genbyg.dk, Gamle mursten.dk, KALK (recycling of mortar), Fischer Lighting, Lendager Group a.o. These companies often collect their materials from demolition projects, or / and are subcontractors for renovation projects of existing construction. Since they do not have access to sorted, certified materials at a unified supply.

The good quality of old building materials is typically not recognized even though the old materials are longer lasting than the materials put on the market today. For instance, contractors will exchange old windows that has lasted for 100 years with windows of a life time of maximum 20 years instead of renovating the existing window or exchanging with old renovated windows. This due to several barriers and linear traditions, as:

  • Lack of knowledge of the quality difference btw old and new that wrongly favors the new materials
  • Tenders are based on lowest price and not Total Cost of Ownership, which favors new cheap building materials that are easily replaceable instead of renovation and restoration of the existing
  • Lack of knowledge and education on how to restore and renovate the existing old according to the methods used when they were installed 50 – 200 years ago and that made the buildings last this long.
  • Lack of access to old (used) materials ready for recycling. Volume and quality are the key to make sure that recycling of building materials is made scalable
  • Lack of Guarantees and certificates of the recycled materials so that it meets the criteria of building materials

There is a market potential in providing recyclable building materials B2B for this new industry of recycled materials used for construction and renovation of existing buildings. The access to unified, quality assured, sorted and enough volume is a key to new tenders based on recycled materials and will also create innovation of new designs of buildings, furniture’s a.o. made from recycled materials. Creation of a market stretch and design freedom for customers from these recycled materials will create circularity in the building industry instead of only basing it on upcycling and gathering way of finding materials that limits the full potential of recycling.

Therefore, the development of REBUILD will include:

  • Identification and description of the different fractions extractable from the waste available today to turn waste into actual building materials; development a sorting manual so that collected waste can become uniform fractions that are marketable in a volume so that customers rely availability.
  • Description of the environmental impacts of the fractions as well as identification of needed standards, certificates’ and legal approvals for customers to purchase the available material fractions with the same certainty as new building materials. The environmental impact (LCA) of recycled materials needs documented for BO to achieve the required points in building certification schemes (LEED, BREAM, DGNB, etc.) and made available for the building owners and architects.
  • Development of a full business plan of REBUILDs circular business model.
  • Development of business cases for the providers and customers in the value chain is necessary to ensure the right pricing and access to materials throughout the value chain and to identify the exact value proposition that REBUILD provides.
  • Dialog with all relevant stakeholders in the value chain to develop and implementation plan for this new business as well as a plan for ownership and organization of REBUILD.
  • Engage and enlighten about the quality of old and used building materials support by documented knowledge in this field already available.
  • Development of cooperation and network with other players recycling building materials. Collaboration with craftsmen, engineers and architects and educations of these to enhance the use of recycled materials in future. The skills needed from old building techniques are disappearing and are important to preserve the old buildings and recycled building materials.
  • Development of platform - both physically and online for matchmaking and sale of the recycled materials available through REBUILD. Cooperation with the existing handlers and recycle stations (municipalities) for them to be storage of REBUILD materials, implementation of sorting manuals etc.
  • Create an innovation environment where entrepreneurs and designers get access to recycled materials and thereby develop new products from the fractions available – especially for the fractions of a quality not good enough for the B2B building industry. There is for instance an increased demand for bio-based plastics that could receive input from the residue fraction of sorted building materials from natural fibers as wood, textiles tec. This should be linked to an existing entrepreneurial initiatives and institutions for those who want to develop a viable business idea.
  • Scaling REBUILD that is legally capable of continuos recycling and advice on the use of recycled materials, including building an organization based on a description of the competencies required for sorting, logistics, sales, IT, management, communication (PR and marketing); as well as the creation and maintenance of networks and cooperation with other relevant players on reuse of building materials.
  • Identify optimal ownership of REBUILD - based on a shareholder approach where key players become shareholders together with Center of Circular Economy (CCE). It is important to clarify the law and ownership of such a company since it will be Private Public Partnership with the municipal waste handlers and to ensure that all in the value chain will support this new business.
  • Establish a guarantee for the recycled materials so building owners, contractors and others achieve the same security in purchasing from REBUILD as purchasing new building materials.

The above will require a longer phase of development and dialog with all stakeholders in the value chain – se below. Then it will be possible to create a national platform to promote the utilization of recycling trees and the platform for support a new emerging industry in recycling of wood, thereby creating growth and employment through local, innovative production. When the national platform and REBUILD has proven business there is a potential for scaling within EU that are subject to the same goals for recycling of building materials and Circular Economy as Denmark.

CCE has the skills to develop the business model and the business plan, technical and environmental aspects of the business model; as well as lead and run a project that ensures the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, experts, knowledge partners, etc. CCE has a large network of relevant stakeholder and trade & industry associations, etc.

CCE has designed a similar business model for used textiles (non-recyclable clothing) and would like to reverse the synergies as well as include textiles suitable for the building industry in REBUILD.

CCE has already been in contact with some relevant stakeholders that has expressed their interest, as:

Vestforbrændingen (largest municipal recycler)

Fischer Lighting (private enterprise with circular business model on lighting installations)

Dansk Energi (Trade organization)


Indsendt af CCØ den 1. oktober 2018

Center for Cirkulær Økonomi stiller sig hermed til rådighed for samarbejde om genanvendelse i bred forstand via Realdania Challenge