Transforming the construction value chain through technology: closing the loop of construction and demolition waste (CDW)Transforming the construction value chain through technology: closing the loop of construction and demolition waste (CDW)


WHAT will be done


In this action we intend to raise awareness among our students and trigger their creativity around the challenges linked to Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW). Debris resulting from construction activities, civil engineering works and their dismantling include a mix of materials such as concrete, steel, wood, gypsum, bricks, clay, steel, asphalts, .. and sometimes small amounts of hazardous materials (asbestos, lighting waste, solvents, …).

In Europe, around 1/3 of all waste generated in the EU is construction and demolition waste. In Europe, CDW includes all the waste produced by the construction and demolition of buildings and infrastructure, as well as road planning and maintenance.

There is an untapped recovery potential in this sector that, by avoiding landfills, could increase the availability of construction materials.

The Circular Economy Spanish Strategy (España Circular 2030, click here for an executive summary in English, click here for the full report in Spanish) acknowledges the construction sector (pp.30, full report) as one of the six key value chains to be addressed in the 2030 horizon. The construction sector contributed 6.5% of Spanish GPD in 2018, but accounts for 40% of waste generated in Spain.

One of the main barriers hindering recycling and re-using of C&D materials is the lack of confidence in the quality of those recycled materials, and also the uncertainty about the potential health risk for workers using C&D recycles. According to the EU Construction and Demolition Waste Management Protocol (EU, 2016) this can be achieved by:

  1. a) Improved waste identification, source separation and collection;
  2. b) Improved waste logistics;
  3. c) Improved waste processing;
  4. d) Quality management;
  5. e) Appropriate policy and framework conditions.

Digitalisation, technology, and process improvement can play a key role in those five areas.

We propose our students to collaboratively research on the problem of CDW and look at the construction value chain ecosystem with a circular perspective. We expect them to come up with potential ideas ranging from building and infrastructure design (architects & civil engineers, CRADLE) to demolition and CDW treatment (GRAVE), taking advantage of the digital technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence, blockchain, track&trace technologies and protocols, sorting technologies, etc.

The result of this team work will be presented on Nov 22 at ETSI Industriales UPM supported by a digital poster. Each team will be assigned a 5-min pitch.

The action is conceived as a pilot for a challenge-based EELISA activity on CDW circularity co-driven by two EELISA communities: “The Circular and Regenerative Campus (CRC community)” and “Circular EELISA”, and to be launched in the second quarter of 2022 among students from the nine European Universities that conform EELISA.


WHERE it will take place


Spain - Madrid


C/José Gutiérrez Abascal

Action Developer

WHO will run the show


EELISA - Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
# Educational Establishment

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