Material passports for a circular economy

Building stocks and infrastructures are representing the most extensive material stock of industrial economies. If we want to minimise the use of primary resources and the dependency on imports, we have to turn to the reuse of these urban stocks. Although some contruction materials are already being recycled, most of it is downcycled, crushed or broken down in material of lower quality and functionality than the original material.

Urban mining offers an alternative to promote a circular economy and resource efficiency in the construction industry. For this to work, information on the material composition of the building stock and material flows (e.g., raw materials, building materials, waste) is needed. The availability of structured information on materials (e.g., spatial, temporal, materiality, etc) is vital towards a transition from a linear to a circular economy.

URBCON focusses on the implementation of eco-efficient concrete structures, whereby mineral by-products are a main material resource and whereby low carbon footprint binders are used. Targeted applications in the urban built environment are pavements, sewer pipes, bridges, quay walls, etc. (not safety-critical as a starting point). A large part of the construction sector is targeted, envisaging the following URBCON based products: urban cement, urban aggregates, urban ready-mix concrete, urban prefabricated concrete products, and urban concrete premix. The last of these is a business to consumer product, the others generally business to business products.

One of the main outputs of URBCON is a web-based market platform forecasting the available mineral-based by-products and considering the logistic chains towards the construction demand. Material Passports (MP) and Building Passports (BP) will be vital for this web-based market platform. A material passport is a document consisting of all the materials that are included in a product or construction. It consists of a set of data describing defined characteristics of materials in products, which give them value for recovery, recycling and re-use. All physical, biological and chemical properties of a material are included in this Material Passport, together with all the linked process of this material.

URBCON is searching for the relevant features that need to be included in both the Material Passport as the Building Passport (BP). The basis is provided by the comprehensive Material Passport structure described by the BAMB project and the Flemish housing pass (Woningpas), which has already entered into force in Flanders.

Stay tuned for more news on this topic!

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