How recycling concrete could accelerate sustainable construction

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With the world’s population still growing, so continues the development of humans’ physical environment. As things stand we still rely on newly cast concrete as an efficient, strong and relatively low cost building material, emitting unsustainable amounts of CO2 as a result (reckoned to be 4 billion tonnes of cement annually, equating to 8% of global emissions).

The process of demolition when an asset reaches its end of life mostly results in piles of rubble. The scale of waste here is significant. Cembureau, the European cement organisation, calculates that 450-500 million tonnes of construction waste is generated in Europe annually. In the USA, experts reckon concrete could be up to 85% of construction waste. Whatever the precise number, as long as the industry isn’t being forced to price in the externalities of climate change, it’s simply cheaper, quicker and easier to knock things down and start over.

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