Report: Euro construction could be 50% circular by 2040

Europe’s construction industry has the potential to achieve 50% circularity by 2040, according to a new report.

Just 18% of demolition waste was reused in construction in 2020. Photo: Adobe Stock

The research – Five Ways to Improve Circularity in Construction, published by management consultancy Bain & Company, in association with Circle Economy – concludes that European construction is currently 30% circular, making it one of the world’s most advanced markets.

Nevertheless, researchers believe a step up to 50% would enable the industry to halve its greenhouse gas emissions.

The report found that current levels of recycling are very low, with concrete at only 12% of recycled input. Furthermore, in 2020, only 18% of demolition waste was reused in construction.

The Bain researchers concluded that, even at 50% circularity, the industry would be able to meet market demands for new construction, while utilising 8% less material – equating to a reduction of around 52 million tonnes per year.

At the same time, says the report, the amount of recycled materials used could double, to around 28%, by 2040.

The Bain report highlights what it calls five critical strategies to help the construction industry reach 50% circularity by 2040:

  • Renovation and longer utilisation: Improving existing residential and commercial buildings to extend their lives and make them more sustainable.
  • Lightweighting. Innovating in design and materials could decrease a building’s embodied carbon by up to 15% by 2040.
  • Renewable inputs: Investing in the rapidly growing market for building materials made from renewable inputs.
  • Circular inputs: Increasing the amount of recycled content, with improved collection and recycling consistency,
  • Recovery services and technology: Better managing waste during construction and demolition, including more advanced material separation techniques, can help increase the amount of materials to be reused or recycled.

Receive the information you need when you need it through our world-leading magazines, newsletters and daily briefings.

Sign up

Andy Brown Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786224 E-mail: [email protected]
Neil Gerrard Senior Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 7355 092 771 E-mail: [email protected]
Catrin Jones Deputy Editor, Editorial, UK – Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 791 2298 133 E-mail: [email protected]
Eleanor Shefford Brand Manager Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786 236 E-mail: [email protected]