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Construction and demolition waste

EU rules aim to ensure that this waste is managed in an environmentally sound way, and to contribute to the circular economy.


Construction and demolition waste (CDW) accounts for more than a third of all waste generated in the EU. It contains a wide variety of materials such as concrete, bricks, wood, glass, metals and plastic. It includes all the waste produced by the construction and demolition of buildings and infrastructure, as well as road planning and maintenance. 


Some components of CDW have a high resource value, while others may have a lower value, but could still be easily reprocessed into new products or materials. Technology for the separation and the recovery of construction and demolition waste is well established, readily accessible and generally inexpensive.

When it is not separated at source, construction and demolition waste can also contain small amounts of hazardous materials such as solvents and asbestos. These can pose particular risks to the environment and impede recycling.

Despite its potential, the level of recycling and material recovery of construction and demolition waste varies greatly across the EU, ranging from less than 10% to over 90%. EU counties apply different definitions of construction and demolition waste, which makes cross-country comparisons difficult.


The main objectives for this waste stream are twofold. Firstly, the EU aims to ensure that CDW is managed in an environmentally sound way. Secondly, reaping the full potential of CDW will contribute to the transition to a circular economy.

Under the Waste Framework Directive, construction and demolition waste is a priority waste stream. It sets the following objectives

  • by 2020, the preparing for re-use, recycling and other material recovery of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste (excluding naturally occurring material defined in category 17 05 04 in the list of waste) shall be increased to a minimum of 70 % by weight
  • promote selective demolition to enable removal and safe handling of hazardous substances and facilitate re-use and high-quality recycling by selective removal of materials and establishing sorting systems
  • reduce waste generation


Tools and initiatives

Level(s) is a voluntary reporting framework to improve the sustainability of buildings. Using existing standards, Level(s) provides a common EU approach to the assessment of environmental performance in the built environment, throughout their whole lifecycle.


Key dates related to EU rules on construction and demolition waste

  1. 18 September 2018
    Construction and Demolition Waste Protocol and Guidelines introduced
  2. 12 December 2008
    Waste Framework Directive enters into force including rules for CDW


17 DECEMBER 2020
Study on the development and implementation of initiatives fostering investment and innovation in construction and demolition waste recycling infrastructure
17 DECEMBER 2020
Study on resource-efficiency in the building sector
11 JANUARY 2021
Study on the resource efficient uses of mixed waste
17 DECEMBER 2020
Report on the management of construction and demolition waste in the EU
23 FEBRUARY 2021
Report on supporting environmentally sound decisions for construction and demolition waste management

Country Factsheets on Construction and Demolition Waste management

Related links

Main law: Waste Framework Directive

Entry into force: 12 December 2008 

Related topics:  Chemicals Circular economy Waste and recycling

Related strategies: Circular economy action plan

Related Commission priorities: European Green Deal


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.