To achieve these goals, we try to avoid using new raw materials as much as possible and put all our efforts into reusing and recycling building materials. And if new raw materials are needed, we choose biobased and non-toxic materials wherever possible.
Making the construction sector more sustainable requires awareness, behavioural change and innovative ideas. The biggest challenge is in recycling plastics and insulation materials such as extruded polystyrene (XPS). These materials are difficult to recycle and unfortunately still too often end up in the incinerator.
You do not need to separate and recycle what does not enter the construction site. "That is why it is important to have good procurement agreements and to rely more on prefabricated construction. It is also important to build detachable structures. That makes it possible to dismantle a building that is set to be demolished so the materials can reused in another building," says Judith Doorn, sustainability coordinator at Ballast Nedam.
From waste to raw material
At De Groene Loper, project VANG (From Waste to Resource) started in October 2022. The project is a collaboration between Laudy Bouw & Ontwikkeling, part of Ballast Nedam, supplier BMN Nederland and producers Xella Group, ROCKWOOL Nederland and Steenfabriek Engels Helden. Project VANG focuses on three major waste streams: sand-lime brick, stone wool and brick. "We bring this waste back to the producer who then recycles it. We also reuse the wooden pallets and recycle the packaging material," says Leon Verheggen, innovation manager at Laudy Bouw & Ontwikkeling.
According to Leon, there is increasing support for projects such as VANG. "That's great, because sustainability is a collective responsibility of all links in the building chain: from design to production and from assembly to recycling."
Leon emphasises that there is still a world to be gained in terms of waste collection. "If different materials end up together in a waste container, for example, nothing at all can be recycled. Another issue is that there is usually insufficient space to collect all materials separately. Therefore, proper waste management is needed. So the construction industry still has some way to go to achieve our sustainability ambitions. But we are definitely on the right track."