The building and construction sector consumes around 10 million tonnes of plastics in Europe each year, which accounts for 20% of total plastics consumption. This makes it the second largest application for plastics after packaging. Plastics are used in all segments of the building, the most common areas of use being cables, piping and insulation materials. Also notable is that a significant portion of single-use plastics is made of packaging materials for construction products.

However, the collection and recycling of plastics at construction sites is not optimal at the moment. Recycled plastics are also not yet notably used in building products and residential buildings. This means there is a clear need to increase the collection and recycling of plastics in the construction sites. But to be able to do this, a better assessment of the current status of plastics use is required.

Concrete actions through a pilot project

To understand how the use of plastics can be optimized in the construction industry, a holistic approach from different parties in the value chain is needed. This is why Finnish actors Premico, Lujatalo, Ara, Municipality Finance and the Ministry of the Environment have joined forces to explore the current status of plastic use in residential construction and identify the opportunities for the circularity of plastics. The purpose of the project is to create concrete measures each party can take to influence the optimal use of plastics and to increase recycling and the use of recycled plastics in residential construction projects. This means influencing also the decision making process and implementing new standards in the construction industry.

To achieve this, data and best practices will be gathered from an apartment building project by Premico and Lujatalo. This pilot building will be built in Vantaa, Finland by the end of 2021 and it is part of the national Plastics Roadmap for Finland. Besides the information to be gathered from the building project, stakeholders and experts will also be interviewed to gain more understanding of the current status and future needs.

LOOP is proud to be orchestrating this ecosystem approach to accelerate circular economy in the construction industry. The report about the current status of plastic use and concrete learnings from the pilot project will be published in March 2021. The aim is then to implement the best practices broadly in the construction industry in all the Nordic countries. More information about the project in Finnish can be found here.

Image by Lujatalo Oy.

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Anu Pousi