The utilization of inert waste in modern Inert Waste Recycling Units, with the aim of producing new, exploitable, secondary materials, is the modern trend of Environmental Engineering in the field of Alternative Waste Management.
Excavation, construction and demolition waste is some of the heaviest and bulkiest waste produced in the European Union. It accounts for about 25% – 30% of all waste generated in the European Union and consists of materials such as concrete, iron, brick, plaster, wood, glass, metals, plastics, asbestos and soil materials, which can be recycled.
ECDW results from activities such as construction of buildings and public infrastructure, total or partial demolition of buildings and substructures, renovation of buildings or apartments, and construction and maintenance of the road network. The different definitions applied across the EU make it difficult for countries to make comparisons.
ECDW has been recognized by the European Union as a priority waste stream. There is great potential for recycling and re-use of ECDW, as some of these materials are of great value. In particular, there is a new market for the use of aggregates derived from ECDW for various construction projects. In addition, the technology for the separation and recovery of construction and demolition waste is well established, easily accessible and generally of low cost.
However, the level of waste recycling and re-use varies widely across the EU from less than 10% to over 90%. In certain Member States, this category of waste is discarded, taking up valuable landfill space. In addition, if they are not separated at the source, they may contain small amounts of hazardous waste, which may pose particular risks to the environment.
In Greece, the amount of waste generated by the various construction works (construction and demolition) is estimated at 6-7 million tonnes per year (Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works 2006), but this figure is constantly decreasing due to the crisis in the construction sector. Given the fact that there was no organized collection and exploitation network up to now, management of such materials is currently fragmented, causing major environmental problems due to their uncontrolled disposal. (Source EOAN)