VALREC project launched to promote the circular economy in construction and demolition waste (CDW)

  • This initiative is led by Surge Ambiental and Valoriza (Sacyr Group), together with seven other companies in the Community of Madrid.
  • It will prevent the dumping of up to 2 million tons of CDW per year and will reduce the carbon footprint of companies by 20%.
  • VALREC is part of the “Open Innovation Business Hubs”, co-financed by the Community of Madrid and the European Regional Development Fund.

Surge Ambiental and Valoriza (Sacyr Group) lead the VALREC project together with seven other companies in the Community of Madrid. This project was created to develop innovative solutions to increase the circularity, traceability and purity of mineral resources present in Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW), and thus make an eco-efficient manufacture of new construction materials. The project will run for two years, and the budget amounts to more than €5 million.

This project also involves ALLGAIER MOGENSEN, ADCORE, SIKA, SODIRA, HORMICRUZ, KOLOKIUM and GBCe (Green Building Council España) and is supported by the research and technological development center TECNALIA, from Instituto Eduardo Torroja de Ciencias de la Construcción IETcc and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM).

VALREC is a subsidized project under the 2020 call for grants to contribute to the improvement of public-private cooperation for R&D on tractor projects developed by Open Innovation Nuclei (Innovation Hubs) within the Regional Research Strategy for Smart Specialization (RIS3) involving strategic areas for the Madrid economy. It is also co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the ERDF Operational Program of the Community of Madrid for the 2014-2020 period.

The project intends to create economic, environmental and social impacts, some of which are:

1) to increase the circularity of mineral resources by approximately 30% towards higher value-added construction products by 2025, preventing the dumping of up to 2 million tons of CDW per year;

2) to reduce the carbon footprint around the participating companies by approximately 20% compared to the baseline situation;

3)the creation of employment by the companies and the collaborating organizations (TECNALIA, IETCC and UAM) for the dissemination and generation of knowledge to develop this project;

4) the economic impact on companies would reach €17.2 million per year from the application of the results after making a private investment of approximately €2 million.

5) to train professionals and generate knowledge among construction and equipment recovery companies around digital and green technologies.

Efficient and sustainable solutions

The different solutions that VALREC will provide stem from a holistic approach, adapted to the local scenario of the Community of Madrid, and that addresses the overcoming of different technological and market obstacles. In doing so, it seeks to ensure the closure of cycles in construction materials and products through efficient recovery and the use of new digital traceability technologies that take circular economy and resource and energy efficiency criteria into account.

The solutions researched in the framework of this project will relate to:

1) selective demolition and traceability of quality through the digitization of information;

2) use of novel technologies for obtaining recycled raw materials of higher purity and improved qualities;

3) incorporation of a higher percentage (with a target of up to 95% of the weight) of recycled raw materials in new products with increased performances for the construction sector;

4) demonstration and validation of the eco-designed solutions, as well as new digital solutions that allow for more detailed information along the value chain.

5) analyzing and studying the results obtained from a technical, commercial and environmental point of view as well as the application of results and proposing new business models derived from the project.

Challenges of the sector

VALREC was created with the goal of managing this type of waste in a more sustainable way, aligning itself with the main challenges of the construction sector to achieve greater efficiency of material resources and sustainability, with a focus on intelligent cycle closure:

  • Circular economy “Spain Circular 2030”: providing greater efficiency and cycle closure in the use of material resources.
  • Climate change “European Green Pact”: promoting the development of alternative technologies, materials and construction products that substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their extraction, manufacturing, transportation, commissioning and service stages.
  • Digitalization of the sector “Digital Spain 2025”: improving digital information about materials throughout the life cycle and supply chain.

Between 5 and 7 million tons of Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW) are generated in the Community of Madrid per year; close to 36 million tons in Spain; and 461 mt in Europe. Of the total CDW, approximately 30% is recycled for low added value uses and it is estimated that 30% of the CDW is disposed of in inert waste landfills without being treated and 40% is disposed of in an uncontrolled manner in spoil heaps and uncontrolled natural spaces.

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