We have been familiar with the term recycling for a long time. Especially in relation to paper, plastic or glass, recycling made its way into everyday life decades ago. But it was not until 1 June 2012 that the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act came into force. It has been amended several times since then. The aim is to conserve natural resources and "protect people and the environment in the generation and management of waste". In addition, recycling measures are to be promoted.

A good 80% of the waste and scrap generated in this country is recycled or otherwise utilised (material/thermal). Small quantities of valuable metals are also recovered from sludge and scrap. Such secondary raw materials from recycling contribute to the local supply of raw materials and reduce our dependence on imports. But the possibilities are far from exhausted. Among other things, new technologies and processes can improve raw material efficiency.

Sustainable use of building materials

While recycling processes became an everyday part of everyone's life with the introduction of the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act, the recycling of building materials is still relatively new. Germany's construction raw materials come from domestic extraction, especially sand, gravel, crushed natural stones, limestones and marls as well as various industrial minerals, for example rock and potash salts, quartz sand/gravel and fluorspar. But these raw materials are finite - worldwide. Therefore, the recycling of used building materials is indispensable. They become available in the case of renovation, reconstruction or deconstruction. Then gravel, bricks, concrete, mortar, etc. can re-enter the building materials cycle in the form of new building materials.

What does this mean for the future?

It is obvious that the recycling of building materials is a decisive measure to sustainably and positively influence the consumption of resources and the associated consequences for the environment. This is particularly relevant in Germany, which is poor in raw materials. Here, construction waste represents a large potential of high-quality raw materials that can already be processed at a reasonable price in such a way that they can definitely compete with the original material in terms of quality. The prerequisite for this, however, is that a controlled and selective approach is already taken during deconstruction, i.e. the various waste materials are collected separately and fed into the appropriate recycling material streams.

Novus re+new staplers and hole punches

Thinking about later in the planning stage

It is helpful here if planning is done from the outset in such a way that later separation and recycling can take place without any problems. At an event organised by the Rhineland-Palatinate Energy Agency, architect Valentin Brenner even spoke in this context of the potential to use buildings as raw material depots and thus create an increase in value. His colleague Annette Hillebrandt emphasised that we need to move from the energy turnaround to a material turnaround, a real circular economy. The awareness is there, now it's time to act. With appropriate products, the emco Group also contributes both to the reuse of recycled materials and, in the case of dismantling, to the return of materials to the material cycle.

Recycling at the emco Group

A good example of successful recycling is the regenerated nylon ECONYL® from nylon waste. It is equal to new nylon, can be recycled and reshaped without limits and without consuming new resources. The Oeko-Tex certified Econyl yarn has been used by emco Bau for selected products since 2016, for example for the Image ECO carpet mat. It is an important component of the company's contribution to sustainability, as it reduces the greenhouse effect of nylon by up to 80% compared to oil-based material. The emco company Novus also closes the recycling loop, because for the Novus re+new staplers and hole punches, for example, old refrigerators are processed into recyclate by a certified recycling company. Recyclates are reused plastics from so-called post- consumer waste. These are plastics that have already been disposed of at least once after their use as household or commercial waste. In this way, the recycling loop closes here as well.

Image ECO carpet mat

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