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Here is how the Principles of Circularity can be applied to reduce the waste generated in the Construction Industry

Posted By : Abhijeet Singh   |   Date : May 31 2021 6:25 AM

Here is how the Principles of Circularity can be applied to reduce the waste generated in the Construction Industry

The construction sector has significantly impacted the world’s natural resources. The sector is claimed to be consuming 50% of the world's natural resources and 12% of freshwater resources. 

The need for new housing and infrastructure is growing worldwide and rapid urbanization is accelerating the demand for resources.

The current volume of the use of natural resources is not sustainable and jeopardizes the environment for the sake of growth.

Of all the volumes of waste produced globally, the construction industry is known to be one of the largest producers of waste. The type of waste generated by the construction industry is termed Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste.

The C&D accounts for 30-40% of all waste produced globally, with 10% generated during construction and 90% generated during demolition. 

In India, only 1% of C&D waste is recovered or recycled. The remainder ends up in landfills or dump yards across the country, causing contamination of the land, water, and air.

The linear Take-Make-Consume-Dispose methodology is currently being used to design our construction-related environment. Transitioning to a circular economy could help us to simultaneously solve resource use and waste generation issues.

The Circular Economy approach

The circular economy approach offers an alternative to traditional design and building methods. The ideals of the circular economy design out waste and pollution, by keeping goods and resources in use, and regenerating natural systems. 

Circularity can be implemented at various levels in the construction industry such as,


  1. Macro, which includes cities, nations, and countries, 

  2. Meso, which includes eco-neighborhoods, eco-industrial parks, etc., 

  3. Micro, for example, buildings, 

  4. And at the Nano level which includes products, materials.


Each of these levels is interdependent on the others, and circularity must be implemented at each level to ensure that circularity is successfully integrated with the industry.


Engineers and Infrastructure developers can expect to integrate the principles of circularity into their project through the adoption of the following approaches 

  1. Circular Design

  2. Circular Material Usage


1. Circular Design

By taking this approach it is viable to design and produce buildings, products, and components that can easily be disassembled at the end of their operation (Design for Disassembly). In new buildings, the products and components can easily be used. 

The new office building of Tridos Bank in the Netherlands is an example of this. The building is completely rebuilt, designed by RAU Architects and Ex Interiors.

Another strategy is Design for adaptability (or flexibility). Through this approach, the construction lifespan is increased, as construction systems can be modified or replaced selectively.

Adaptive Reuse of buildings is a widely used technique all over the world. Established structures are repurposed for anything other than those for which they were designed in this strategy. Hotels, boutiques, cafes, and museums are all popular makeovers of heritage buildings around the world.

2. Circular Material Usage

Based on their circularity, construction materials are chosen for this method. The new products can be produced through materials reduction, reuse, recycling, and recovery. Bio based, technical or hybrid materials may be included in the material choice. 

Bio based Materials - Bio based materials are designed in such a way that they can be returned to the environment during or after the end-of-their-life. For example, timber, fiber cotton, paper, etc. It is not possible to treat technical materials using a biological cycle.

Technical Materials - A biological cycle can't handle technical materials. They can be demolished, reused, or changed physically or chemically. Technical materials include metals and plastics.

Hybrid Materials - A combination of bio based and technical materials can be termed hybrid materials. Original materials from hybrid products may be difficult to retrieve as the raw material changes chemically during the production process.

Circularity elements can be found in many buildings in India. Several circular economic solutions for materials are already in place here, but a holistic approach will encourage broad adoption. These practices will help to minimize the resource intensity of the construction industry, which will also contribute to reducing the sector's environmental impact

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