The congress began with the following observation: the three countries are very advanced in recycling, but at the same time produce a considerable amount of waste. The following two main topics were discussed: the recycling of building materials and energy supply through waste heat and garbage. It was pointed out that construction waste is a very important source of waste (about 60% of the waste in Germany) that could theoretically be fully recycled. However, this is not the case, especially as recycled materials are assumed to be of lower quality, even though there is no scientific evidence to support this. Moreover, the recycling of construction waste must be included in the planning from the start and there must be staff trained in this area (currently only a few training courses are offered). Waste recycling is an emerging field that offers new opportunities: not only minimal environmental impact and reduction of raw material and energy losses, but also innovation (potential for optimisation of recycling processes) and cost savings. Three successful examples were introduced for the second topic of the congress, energy supply through waste heat and garbage. The Kehl steelworks is an example of how the use of waste heat can supply a border area (Strasbourg) of 900,000 inhabitants with heat. The city of Porrentruy and the company Thermoréseau show that it is possible to replace fuel oil with wood chips to supply energy to a city of around 6000 inhabitants. Finally, the biogas plant M2V shows that agricultural residues and waste can also be converted into biogas.
The sources for the use of waste heat and waste recycling are diverse and are probably not all considered and used sufficiently. It is therefore up to companies such as Ecoliance members to network in order to continue researching and investing in these future markets.
For more information:
- On concrete recycling: https://www.pnrecybeton.fr/en/
- On the use of waste heat in the Kehl steelworks: https://int.strasbourg.eu//cross-border-heat-from-kehl-for-the-people-of-strasbourg
- On the biogas plant M2V: http://www.rytecbiogas.com/en