Six projects shaping the future of zero waste
A four-year UK and EU-funded study will explore “easily adoptable” solutions to improve waste management in construction, the biggest consumer of non-renewable resources in the region.
The study, known as RECONMATIC, will develop automated tools to help meet the EU target of zero construction and demolition waste (CDW) by 2050.
In 2018, the construction industry generated 35.7% of total waste in the EU, and in the UK it was an even higher 48.8%.
Funded by UK Research and Innovation and Horizon Europe, the EU’s R&D funding programme, the project will bring together 23 partners from seven countries across the EU, the UK and China. These partners will work on six demonstrator projects in Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain and the UK.
For example, the UK partners will use digital construction and building information modelling to develop methods that will help to better identify and minimise waste during the entire lifecycle of a building.
The UK’s participants are Morgan Sindall Construction, BIMBox, the University of Salford, the University of Manchester and Arcas & Callisto Consulting.
The UK demonstrator
Morgan Sindall has gathered “huge amounts” of CDW data on materials such as concrete, steel and plasterboard.
Working closely with the University of Salford, the company will use that data to put a value on the waste and map out “optimised waste streams” in an effort to introduce greater circularity to construction.
Morgan Sindall will also work with BIMBox to develop a new dataset – called WASTEie – to simplify and standardise information exchange, data assignment and classification both at projects and between organisations.
A standardised information dataset for waste-related data does not yet exist, so the goal is to support the digital sharing of waste-related information.
Alongside this, the team will work on creating waste predictor tools, linked to WASTEie and Morgan Sindall’s materials databank. This will allow developments to put in place new, more accurate benchmark targets throughout the project’s lifecycle, helping stakeholders make more informed choices to design out waste from the outset.
Barry Roberts, North West managing director of Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “This composition of our consortium will enable the project to tackle the whole life cycle of waste management, propose beyond-state-of-the-art technologies, and contribute to reaching the zero-waste construction industry in Europe that we all desire.
“Throughout RECONMATIC, we want to engage with industry stakeholders and policymakers to encourage the widespread adoption of the innovations we will deliver.
“This is a really exciting initiative and comes at a time when the development of net zero solutions has never been more important.”
The other demonstrators
Greece: concrete waste reduction
The project seeks to increase automation and efficiency in how concrete is ordered, produced and delivered on site. Using sensors, AI and GPS technologies, the project explores how to track information on concrete logistics to reduce waste as much as possible.
Italy: Digital waste management in infrastructure
Focusing on railway infrastructure, the demonstrator will collate data from all the stakeholders in a development to ensure waste can be traced and managed efficiently despite the number of teams involved. The project will also test material mapping and BIM modelling to help increase traceability. The more materials can be traced, the more they can be reused.
Czech Republic: Digital twin waste management
The project seeks to maximise the reuse of waste from road and motorways. The team will create digital twins with “all relevant quantitative material and waste-related information” to show the sustainability benefits of creating a non-physical version of real objects.
A second demonstrator in the Czech Republic will pilot digital twins for tracking the lifecycle of materials in buildings.
Spain: Robotic sorting
The project will test the viability of using advanced robotic sorting to sort through construction waste. Expecting to cut the use of manual labour by 40%, the pilot aims to commercialise recycled products. With better efficiency and less contamination, the robotic method should, in theory, both increase sales and lower prices.