News Article construction recycling report reuse Ukraine war in Ukraine
by Property Forum | Report

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine has led to huge destruction, the volume of construction waste has reached a critical level and continues to increase. Iryna Nastych summarised the situation in an article prepared by the Ukrainian Real Estate Club for Property Forum.

According to calculations of the Kyiv School of Economics, by the end of 2022 in Ukraine there were more than 150 thousand damaged or destroyed residential buildings. As of March, according to the press service of Irpin city council, the total volume of construction waste which was formed only in this area as a result of military operations was 80 thousand cubic meters. In Mykolayiv, according to the district administration, the approximate amount of construction waste formed in March 2023 was 2,155 cubic meters.

The figures are horrifying, and these are only preliminary calculations, because it is impossible to determine the exact scale of destruction in the occupied territories, and the enemy continues its rocket terror throughout Ukraine, and settlements on the line of contact are destroyed completely.

The calculations given by Julia Chorna from IC Ukraine, show how much construction waste is produced when one building is destroyed: "According to our data, which are indicative and can only be considered in the context of a basic family house or kindergarten/school/hospital, and the like, then from a two-story private house (approximate heating area of 180 sq. m), about 492.6 tons of construction waste and garbage can be obtained (brick - 248.7 tons, reinforced concrete - 110 tons, concrete - 125.8 tons, metal - 7.5 tons, wood - 0.4 tons, glass - 0.3 tons). Of the five-storey building (estimated heating area of 4,368 square meters) - 9,073.4 tons (bricks - 3,958.9 tons, reinforced concrete - 4,401.2 tons, concrete - 629 tons, metal - 29.3 tons, wood - 20.7 tons, glass - 21.8 tons.

The calculations were based on the assumption that the exterior walls were made of brick and the basic building materials that could later be used as secondary material were calculated. The calculation of the materials of the damaged buildings includes brick, reinforced concrete, concrete, metal structures, wood, and glass. Structures considered: walls, inter-floor ceilings, windows, doors, elements of heating, cold and hot water supply and sewage systems. Furniture and appliances were not considered during the calculations.

Since the amount of construction waste is constantly growing, it is obvious that there is a need for new effective mechanisms for handling such waste, including at the legislative level.

"Until recently, legislation contained no special norms or requirements regarding the reuse of such waste, each enterprise or city has been dealing with the situation by its own efforts and mostly in the traditional way - that is, by dumping it in landfills/dumps designed for solid household waste," explains Jaroslava Lagan, Attorney at Ader Haber.

At the end of 2022, the disposal of the remains of demolished buildings behind the existing mechanism - as municipal solid waste, already in the short term threatened to overflow landfills, given the large scale of destruction and the size of the remains of buildings. With this in mind, in September 2022 the government introduced a legislative framework for a different algorithm for dealing with construction waste that was generated as a result of demolition. The new approach provides for the organization of clearing the territory from destruction with recycling and reuse of waste (if possible). The corresponding order is approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of September 27, 2022, № 1073".

Resolution No. 1073 suggests possible ways to reuse such waste in construction and industry (for example, construction materials based on gypsum can be used as an additive to dry construction mixes, secondary raw materials for the production of similar products, and reinforced concrete structures and their debris - for the production of coarse and fine aggregates for concrete).

Experts point out that some issues at the legislative level still need to be worked out. Resolution No. 1073 states that the management of waste from demolition can organize the owner or manager of the building, and here the question arises when it comes to an apartment building, who is the owner of the ruins? The Department of Housing and communal services of Kharkiv in a conversation with a reporter of Property Times said that they consider this construction waste, which was formed as a result of the destruction of an apartment building, as common property. In order to somehow dispose of what was once someone's apartment, you need to get permission from each owner, and it is physically impossible.

"In conditions where it is impossible to identify the owner of the waste directly, such waste is actually the property of the local government," says Eugene Polyakov.

Most of the communities that faced large-scale destruction now solve the problem of disposal and recycling of construction waste on their own. For the most part, the solution is limited to removing debris and removing the remains of buildings to temporary storage sites.

According to Yulia Chorna, one of the best examples of the reuse of construction waste is now a project in Gostomel, which is being implemented by the French company Neo-Eco. At the end of January, the company began work on the first four sites in Gostomel, where they managed to achieve a recycling rate of 90%, and only 10% of construction waste was taken to landfill. According to Ukraine Resilience concrete and bricks were recycled to a fine fraction, metal, wooden doors to particleboard panels, plaster to plasterboard and glass/PVC were distributed to calcine, aluminium and PVC.

This is a project of reconstruction of destroyed houses in Gostomel, which is implemented within the framework of the memorandum between the French company Neo-Eco and the Kyiv region's wartime administration.

"The project envisages the use of a closed cycle economy, which is innovative for Ukraine (recycling of construction waste into new building materials). The project will build about 450 apartments in new modern urban neighbourhoods, using recycled construction waste in the construction.

We plan to introduce closed-cycle technology in many cities in Ukraine, especially in those that have suffered most from the war and where there is a lot of construction waste that needs to be done. Recycling construction waste - it is economically profitable, it is effective and most of all - ecologically", says Kirill Chernishuk, Director General of Neo-Eco Ukraine.

As of mid-April 2023, a total of 5 multistory buildings have already been dismantled in the city.

During the online forum FIT for Ukraine: Construction Materials organised by UkraineInvest, one of the participants voiced the intention to use waste glass, including those resulting from the destruction and damage to buildings, in the production of granulated foam glass.

Vladimir Bandura, a partner in the project "Ideal Pora" (production of granulated foam glass and products based on it) told more about this project: "The main raw material for us - this waste window glass. They are mechanically and thermally processed according to our technology and from them, we produce small pellets of foam glass. When processing glass for the production of insulating glass, there is a significant amount of waste - 10-12% of the volume of windows produced. This waste is usually organized into warehouses and sold by manufacturers of insulating glass units. The task of organizing the collection of broken glass from the affected houses will be more difficult. We have not considered it as our main activity, exactly the procurement of waste glass, we were more focused on recycling. But we will probably have to organize the collection as well, given the scale and importance of the problem. We already have the technology for foam glass production tested on an industrial scale. As soon as the market gets better, we will immediately resume production. Moreover, with many years of experience in real estate development, we understand that investments in construction materials are the most attractive now”.

To avoid the risks associated with the reuse of construction waste that was generated as a result of military operations, it is important to analyze the composition of finished construction materials from this waste prior to their reuse. In Ukraine, there are laboratories that can conduct research on the content of harmful substances both in construction waste that is prepared for recycling and in finished materials produced from this waste. Such laboratories are located both in the institutions of technical expertise and certification of construction materials, as well as in government agencies that control the quality and safety of construction products and so on.

The local authorities of the regions that have experienced the greatest devastation and need an urgent solution to the problem of construction waste are already doing the appropriate work. "The city is negotiating with such companies as the French company Neo Eco, the Danish company Cowi and the Japanese company Jica regarding the provision of assistance to Nikolaev in recycling construction waste. We have made appropriate requests, and we expect answers from our international partners on the possibility of providing such assistance and the terms", says Deputy Director of the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning of Mykolayiv City Council Evgeny Polyakov.

With the right approach and the establishment of sorting directly on the ground, recycling and reuse of construction waste has enormous potential.

This material was produced with the assistance of CFI, the French Media Development Agency, as part of the Hub Bucharest Project with the support of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.