Slobodan Draganović, Tehnical Director, ŠUTEX d.o.o.

Construction Waste Is A Valuable Raw Material

Šuteks is a company that has been dealing with the disposal of rubble, refuse and waste for 18 years. The company has ever more work, not only in Belgrade, which is one big construction site, but also across the country

The most important thing for construction waste management is to ensure the obligation to secure sorting and separating for reuse and recycling at the point of origin. That will then significantly ease the further management of this waste – explains Šuteks Technical Director Slobodan Draganović

Šuteks has also worked for the Rio Tinto subcontractor?

What was specific about that cooperation? Yes, we also worked for this large, world-renowned company, and that cooperation was very important for us. Foreign companies in our country work according to our laws, but also according to their own, in the case that they are more stringent than ours, which only shows how responsible they are and how much attention they pay to environmental protection.

Although up to 80 per cent of rubble and other construction waste can be reused, it still ends up in landfill sites in our country. Do you think that problem could be solved through changes to regulations and laws?

The construction industry, as one of the leading contributors in terms of the consumption of raw materials, has gradually become an increasing source of pollution due to the huge amounts of construction waste it generates. The issue of construction waste has not yet been resolved in Serbia. EU member states and other developed countries, such as Japan, have long viewed construction waste as a significant raw material for sustainable development and green building, while in the Netherlands and Denmark up to 90 per cent of all construction waste is recycled.

It is estimated that between a million and 1.5 million cubic metres of construction waste is generated in Serbia annually, while the percentage of construction waste that is recycled is negligible. The most prevalent construction waste items – concrete, asphalt, wood, brick, tiles, ceramics, steel, aluminium, iron, copper, gypsum and glass – can be recycled and have their own market value and many application possibilities. That’s why it’s important for the competent institutions to create the necessary preconditions for the recycling of this waste by amending the legal framework. This would allow this type of waste to be treated as a raw material, and not as waste.

The EU has long since adopted a package of measures relating to the transition from a linear to a circular economy, and that is a direction that Serbia will have to follow on its road to EU accession.

Otherwise, mining waste can be used as a building material, for making barriers, for local rural roads, for raising embankments during floods, and even for covering fires.

How can our companies be equipped to work according to European standards, given that none of them have a license to create new material from waste?

There is no existing legislation that prescribes such licenses. That’s why it’s essential to amend the existing legal framework, with which the obligations and responsibilities of all participants in the waste management process will be clearly defined, and which will at the same time ensure the conditions for protecting the environment. There is huge potential for the reuse of waste materials and the recycling of construction waste, because – in addition to saving resources and raw materials – that also enables additional savings to be made in the economic domain, in terms of the price of materials, transport and mechanisation.

Are the potential for savings in construction and the preservation of the environment sufficient reasons for the state to priorities addressing this issue?

As a socially responsible company, Šuteks d.o.o. certainly monitors and fulfils all legal obligations and has all essential permits required to ensure that, primarily, waste management is carried out in a safe way for the health of Serbian citizens and the environment. Simultaneously, we also expect the state to take a serious approach to solving this problem in the coming period, because construction – as one of the leading industrial activities – will be an ever growing consumer of raw materials and natural resources, and consequently an ever growing producer of solid waste and a source of air, water and land pollution.

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