1 February 2019

City of Zurich shares knowledge in recycling concrete with European cities

ICLEI member Zurich’s (Switzerland) Environmental Protection and Health Agency recently hosted a three-day visit for European practitioners to showcase their experience in reusing and recycling construction and demolition waste (CDW).

Experts from The Metropolitan City of Rome Capital (Italy) and the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority, HSY (Finland) travelled to Zurich to get inspired and learn about the reuse of concrete used for buildings (recycled concrete).

CDW is one of the largest waste streams in the EU. According to the European Commission, 25-30% of all waste generated in the EU consists of CDW materials such as concrete, bricks, gypsum, wood, glass metals and others, many of which can be recycled.
Instead of landfilling, today cities are looking for ways of using these resources more efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way. One option is to recycle the mineral components of construction and demolition waste as a resource for new concrete. This allows the construction sector to preserve natural resources, shut landfills and in this way protects precious landscapes and habitats.

The city of Zurich has over 15 years of experience building with recycled concrete. And it is pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible. Newer buildings achieve rates of up to 50% recycled components in the final product. Other countries, such as Finland, still maintain a maximum of 10% of recycled non-concrete components for concrete production.

The visit took place as part of the UrbanWINS CityMatch run by ICLEI . Cooperating with the Procura+ European Sustainable Procurement Network, CityMatch is an exchange programme for professionals to provide a forum for learning and exchange on waste management and sustainable procurement.

“This CityMatch has been an eye opener for HSY on how to use recycled concrete in buildings,” said Roni Järvensivu from HSY. And Margherita Carè from Metropolitan City of Rome Capital adds “we will go back home and see how we can change our standards for using recycled concrete, taking the Swiss examples as a baseline.”

The activity is part of UrbanWINS, an EU-funded project that supports eco-innovation in waste prevention and management with the involvement of citizens and pilots actions in eight European cities.

For more information and to learn more about the UrbanWINS project, click here.