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
- In 2018, a review on the implementation of EU waste legislation was published.
- Construction and Demolition Waste Management Protocol - non-binding guidelines on how to properly handle this waste stream.
- Guidelines for audits before demolition of building - guidance on best practices for the assessment of construction and demolition waste prior to demolition or renovation of buildings and infrastructures.
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.
- 18 September 2018Construction and Demolition Waste Protocol and Guidelines introduced
- 12 December 2008Waste Framework Directive enters into force including rules for CDW
Country Factsheets on Construction and Demolition Waste management
Main law: Waste Framework Directive
Entry into force: 12 December2008
Related topics: ChemicalsCircular economyWaste and recycling
Related strategies: Circular economy action plan
Related Commission priorities: European Green Deal
For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.