Info-Center - Recycling of building materials – for nature and climate protection


The global environmental situation

In the 21st century our planet faces new global and ecological challenges. Until 2025 the world population will increase to approx. 8 billion people according to estimates of UNO.

The rapid growth of the world population is accompanied by a progressive increase of the consumption of resources.

In the „Living-Report“ of WWF it is pointed to the fact that the ecological footprint of mankind describing the relationship between use of natural resources and biocapacity of our planet has increased from 50 % in 1960 to 130 % in 2009. In other words: mankind lives beyond its means  destroying its own basis of life at a growing speed.

The global warming threatening due to an uncontrolled CO2 output shows also the problems associated with an unhindered consumption of resources. The target of climate protection to limit the global warming to maximally 2°C adopted by the heads of states and governments in Copenhagen in 2009 may be only reached by a changeover from the presently resource-intensive world economy to a largely CO2‑neutral recycling economy.


Protection of resources required

When considering the global consumption of resources big differences are to be detected between industrial states and developing countries.

According to data published by the European Environment Agency [3] the consumption of primary materials amounts to about 15-16 tons per person and year in the 15 EU member states. However, this consumption differs strongly with the Federal Environmental Agency [4] giving a per capita consumption of primary materials of approx. 52 tons in 2004. This consumption of materials adds to the pollution of the environment in Europe as well as in other regions of the world. Here, a too intensive use of the renewable resources (as explained by the ecological footprint [2]), the rising emissions in water, air and soil and the production of big quantities of waste play a major part.

Apart from this, already in the foreseeable future an exhaustion of resources also in the field of non-renewable resources may result in bottlenecks in industrial production. The European Commission and the  Conference of Ministers responsible for European Planning demanded the protection of the biodiversity and natural and man-made landscapes in Europe in the “Directive Natura 2000” [5] and the „Guiding Principles for a Sustainable Development of the European Continent” [6]. This means that in future it will no longer be allowed to destroy interconnected undisturbed landscape areas by the extraction of primary raw materials. Considering these instructions relating to environmental protection in prospect also a shortage of primary raw material deposits is threatening.

In 2006 the Council of the European Parliament requested to improve the efficiency of resources to reduce the total consumption of non-renewable natural resources and the adverse effects on environment connected with it in the EU Sustainable Development Strategy [7]. Thus, renewable natural resources shall be only used to an extent not exceeding their regeneration capacity.


Waste produced in Europe

One third of the resources consumed is converted into waste and emissions according to data quoted by the European Environment Agency. In the member states of the European Union approximately 4 t of waste per person are produced a year.

The biggest volume of waste in Europe is produced by construction and demolition work. According to information given by the European Statistical Office EUROSTAT 48 % of the waste produced fall to construction and demolition work and further 15 % of the waste produced come from mining and stone and earth extraction in the 15 EU states.

Thus, altogether approx. two thirds of the waste are produced in the fields of construction, demolition, mining and extraction of stones and earths. This waste consists predominantly of mineral waste. On the basis of the total waste produced a year in the 25 EU and EFTA states estimated to 1750 to 1900 million tons the volume produced in the domain of mineral waste may be estimated to more than 900 million tons a year.

An ecologically favourable dumping of this huge quantity of mineral waste seems to be scarcely possible. In addition dumping is frequently connected with transporting of mineral wastes over longer distances which means not only a strain on the transport infrastructure but is also connected with a not insignificant emission of CO2

For all these reasons a fast reorganization of the European economy in the sense of a recycling economy will be indispensable und is a declared aim of the European Union.