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New circular solutions for the construction sector

By State of Green, February 06, 2019

There are not enough resources in the world to continue old construction habits, which generates half of the world’s waste. Accordingly, future sustainable cities need to be built from waste and circular thinking, for instance by recycling reused building materials.

The rapidly growing construction sector lacks behind when it comes to recycling. The sector is currently among the world’s largest producers of waste: Every year, 1.3 billion tonnes of waste is generated worldwide and half of it comes from construction. Within the next 30 years, it is estimated that the amount of new construction will equal the amount, which is already built today. Consequently, there is a need for new circular solutions, which the one-year long competition “Circular Construction Challenge” is supporting.

Circular Construction Challenge

The vision of the innovation competition “Circular Construction Challenge” is to turn the around 650 million tonnes of construction waste produced worldwide every year into a resource for new construction. For the last sixth months, Danish-based companies have competed together with innovators from all around the world to invent solutions, which reuse waste for construction.

“The world calls for new sustainable solutions. The amount of construction will rise dramatically over the next decades, so new circular methods need to be put in place to meet the massive challenges we see with waste and resource consumption. Therefore, there is a great need to support the development and promote innovation. Here, Danish companies are internationally at the forefront, and with the competition we hope to strengthen the very best ideas so that even more of the new solutions come from Denmark”, said Nina Kovsted Helk, CPO of Realdania.

39 submissions from Danish-based companies entered the competition and yesterday, the three winning solutions were announced. Each winning team receives EUR 130,000 and during the next 6 months they will develop and test their solutions with the support of experts in circular economy and construction.

Recycling of reused building materials

One of the winning solutions “Gentræ” wants to introduce reused building materials in large-scale retail sale in order to make it an attractive and natural choice for constructors and craftsmen, thereby contributing to a paradigm shift towards increased circularity in the building sector.

The reused building materials will be introduced in large-scale retail sale by launching GENTRÆ, an assortment consisting of reused building materials, which can be sold across building material suppliers, initially across Denmark, later in the Nordics and finally globally. The first building material in the GENTRÆ assortment is temporary construction timber (i.e. guardrails, toe boards, stairs, framework panels, plywood hoarding etc.).

The timber from temporary constructions is particularly optimal for reuse due to large volumes, fast turnover, absence of hazardous substances and limited requirements for the material. However, today in Denmark, approximately 50,000 tons of temporary timber is, after less than 6 months of use, disposed of as combustible waste, mainly due to logistic challenges and a lacking market. GENTRÆ wishes to disrupt the current linear process and bring the timber into a circular loop.

Read more about Gentræ and the other winners here.

Source: Realdania and Ingeniøren

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