EU Member States agree on promoting the recycling of construction products – Council adopts conclusions on the circular economy in the construction sector

Press release 2019-11-28 at 14:37

Joint press release of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment

From now on, the circular economy will be taken into account in EU legislation on the construction sector, and the reuse and recycling of construction products will be made easier. The conclusions on the circular economy in the construction sector were adopted unanimously by all EU Member States. The conclusions, drawn up at the initiative of Finland under the leadership of the Ministry of the Environment, were approved by the ministers responsible for competitiveness at the Council of Ministers on 28 November 2019.

“We only have one Earth, and we have reached the limits of its carrying capacity. The circular economy brings solutions to the sustainability crisis. We are now taking a leap forward in the development of the circular economy, as all 28 EU Member States agree that the circular economy must be expanded and strengthened in construction. Today’s conclusions are a feather in Finland’s hat – a triumph that benefits all of us,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen.

“It is essential to take into account the circular economy perspective in the reform of the EU Construction Products Regulation. In addition to responding to the climate challenge, the recycling of construction products opens up a major new product market and, at best, can create millions of jobs in Europe,” Minister of Employment Timo Harakka emphasises.

Conclusions binding on the Commission, particularly as concerns drafting of legislation

The conclusions will have a particularly strong impact on the Construction Products Regulation, which the Commission will reform over the next few years. The Regulation ensures that accurate and reliable information on the characteristics of construction products is provided in a consistent way throughout the EU.

The conclusions oblige the Commission to amend the Regulation so that reusable construction products can also be CE-labelled and that their properties can be indicated in all situations. In practice, this makes the reuse and recycling of construction products possible.

As a result of the amendments, we will be able to create an internal market for used construction products and construction products produced from recycled materials in the EU. It is estimated that the expanding circular economy in the construction sector could create 6.5 million new jobs in the EU by 2030.

The conclusions also state that the reuse of construction products must be voluntary for the Member States. The safety and health properties of buildings must not be jeopardised. Additional investments are needed particularly in research and development work concerning sustainable construction products and materials and in the commercialisation of research results.

The conclusions also oblige the Commission to examine other legislation affecting the circular economy of construction. Moreover, the Commission must promote the establishment of modular building design and a way of thinking that takes into account the life cycle of buildings as a whole.
The potential of the building sector to reduce climate emissions and conserve raw materials is very significant. Half of the world’s raw materials are used for construction, and the sector generates 35 per cent of all greenhouse gases and 30 per cent of waste.

Inquiries:

Kirsi Martinkauppi, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295 250 177, kirsi.martinkauppi@ym.fi

Timo Juurikkala, Special Adviser to Minister Mikkonen, tel. +358 40 555 4013, timo.juurikkala@ym.fi

Jenni Karjalainen, Special Adviser to Minister Harakka, tel. +358 40 751 5496, jenni.karjalainen@tem.fi