Calls to reclassify crushed concrete to give construction industry environmentally friendly option of recycling

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The construction industry has called on the State’s environmental watchdog to reclassify for recycling and reuse the same kind of demolition rubble which is at the centre of enforcement action on a strategic site in Cork city.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said the situation on the BAM-owned site on Sullivan’s Quay is a “perfect example” of the difficulties that many contractors face in managing “crushed concrete” because there is no place in Cork to process it. The nearest licensed facility is in Waterford.

The CIF confirmed that it has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reclassify such crushed concrete to give the industry the option of reusing and recycling the material in a more environmentally friendly way.

CIF regional director, Conor O’Connell, said the industry today faces significant problems in the managing of construction and demolition by-products here:

Moving clean soil and stone or crushed concrete is extremely difficult as there are few licensed facilities available to move these products to and the regulations that govern these by-products are confusing and outdated.

“In other European countries there are licensed facilities and regulations that allow the construction industry to reduce, reuse and recycle. The site on Sullivan’s Quay is a perfect example of the difficulties that many contractors face in managing crushed concrete.

"The preferred option of the industry and indeed the correct option for the environment is that these products should be re-used as an aggregate on existing projects but unfortunately, this is not easy or possible due to the current interpretation of the regulations.”

It is understood that the CIT and the Irish Concrete Federation have asked the EPA to designate crushed concrete an “end of waste” product which if approved would allow the industry re-use the material in a manner similar to other EU countries.

“Treating these products as waste is adding significant costs to the construction process and is contrary to good sustainable development practices,” Mr O'Connell said.

“The National Planning Framework seeks for 50% of new development to take place in existing urban locations involving the regeneration of many brownfield sites. This type of development will involve a significant amount of demolition.

"Transporting crushed concrete many miles away from the original site is not sustainable or environmentally good practise. We are hopeful that changes will be introduced shortly to the regulatory process or that it will be accepted by regulators that crushed concrete is a by-product and not waste."

Cork City Council’s planning department has initiated enforcement proceedings against BAM in relation to the storage of rubble on the Sullivan’s Quay site following the demolition last year of the landmark Revenue building where BAM has planning for a hotel and office block.

In early May, a bulldozer contoured the rubble so that it is not visible over the site hoarding.

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