Austria has decided to ban the landfilling of most mineral building materials in a good two years - this in line with European requirements to promote the circular economy. This marks the last step in a decade-long positive development in the recycling of construction waste; Over 80% of the mineral fraction in Austria has already been recycled, more than 7 million tons of recycled building materials were used year after year. Building material recycling has been carried out professionally in Austria since 1990 - whether mobile on construction sites or stationary. Processing plants are available across the board, quality management is at the forefront of Europe according to national and European requirements.
Future landfill ban
By April 1st, 2021 - and that's not an April Fool's joke! - The landfill regulation amendment was published with BGBl. II 144/2021. A central importance for the recycling of building materials has come into force with the addition of § 1 with regard to circular economy: In order to create a circular economy, in accordance with the waste hierarchy, the aim is to ensure that waste that is suitable for recycling and other forms of recovery is not in the future can be accepted for disposal in landfills.
The following waste can no longer be deposited in a landfill from 1.1.2024: Bricks from production, road demolition, technical bulk material, concrete demolition, track ballast, asphalt, chippings and recycled building materials of quality class UA. “Recycling of building materials is to be regarded as state-of-the-art throughout Austria. For over 30 years, a market has been built up in accordance with the guidelines for recycled building materials of the Austrian Building Material Recycling Association, in which hundreds of producers now participate. Since 2016 there has been an early end to waste for recycled building materials with the best environmental quality. The proportion of material to be dumped was already only 7% of the mineral construction waste. It was the logical step for usable minerals to be banned from landfilling on a political level, ”says Martin Car, long-time managing director of the Austrian Building Materials Recycling Association (BRV).
The ban on landfill does not only affect the groups of substances listed, but also plasterboard. In modern buildings, gypsum can make up 7% of the materials used. From January 1.1.2026st, XNUMX, plasterboard, plasterboard and fiber-reinforced plasterboard (plasterboard with fleece reinforcement, plasterboard) may no longer be deposited. The exception to this will be those panels which, in the course of an incoming inspection in a recycling plant for gypsum waste, are verifiably found to be of insufficient quality to produce recycled gypsum from them.
The longer transition period is necessary because there is no comprehensive gypsum recycling in Austria and the corresponding logistics have to be set up first.
By the end of 2026, the dumping of artificial mineral fibers (KMF) - whether as hazardous waste or in non-hazardous form - will also no longer be allowed. Here, the environmental department of the responsible federal ministry expects that the industry will create similar treatment routes in the next five years. Nevertheless, this step will be evaluated in the next few years in order not to create waste disposal bottlenecks.
Building material recycling as the future
Building material recycling will become THE solution of the future. In civil engineering alone, 60% of the masses that have ever been built are in roads, railways, line construction or other infrastructure. These building materials were subject to high quality and standardized requirements during installation. These high-quality building materials are the best raw material for new building materials in the circular economy. Asphalt can not only be used as a granulated base course for a road or a parking lot, but can also be used as a high-quality stone (aggregate) in hot mixing plants. Concrete can be used both unbound as concrete granulate, but also in bound form, e.g. for concrete production - a separate part of ÖN B 4710 deals with recycled concrete. Technical bulk material can be recycled in the same form, there are good recycling channels for track ballast, both on-site and off-site. All recycled building materials are subject to constant quality control - there are legal (RBV) and technical specifications (standards); The BRV offers a summary of the most important principles in the form of the “Guidelines for Recycled Building Materials”, which also serve as the basis for the tender.
The tender of the future
Construction tenders should be prepared for this new situation today: Many planned construction projects need several years to be implemented and completed and thus fall within the deadline for the ban on landfilling. It is therefore wise to adapt to the new situation for tenders that are currently being planned. In civil engineering, it is also helpful to take a look at the new Standardized Service Description Transport and Infrastructure (LB-VI), published by the Austrian Research Association for Road-Rail-Transport (FSV). A separate service group defines tender texts for recycling. But the general preliminary remarks already deal with the preference of recycling over landfilling. On May 1, 2021, the new edition of the LB-VI will take place in the form of version 6, which also makes new specifications with regard to excavated soil.
The market is big
Several countries in Europe have already issued or are planning to restrict or bans landfills. Why is Austria following now? One reason is certainly that politicians waited until the market was sufficiently large to be able to set a landfill ban without price increases or effective market restrictions. At the same time, one would like to conserve natural resources - i.e. not pollute nature, but use secondary resources from our cities and infrastructure facilities that are being dismantled. "The capacities of the companies of the Austrian Building Materials Recycling Association are still far from being fully utilized - 110 systems alone, spread across Austria, could already recycle 30% more than currently available," says Car. The new regulations will not make the market any smaller. In terms of disposal, far more recycling plants have been active than construction waste landfills; in the case of building material production, there are still predominantly primary building material producers who are supplemented by building material recycling producers.
The building materials recycling association provides more detailed information via information sheets and seminars - e.g. about the new landfill regulations or the correct way of demolition (www.brv.at).
Photo / Video: BRV.