9 July 2021
Chantier de destruction d'un bâtiment
Two Cerema specialists spoke at the European Forum on the Circular Economy (EFCE) which took place June 23 and 24, 2021, on topics related to the circular economy in the field of construction and public works.

The European Forum on the Circular Economy organized on June 23 June 23 and 24 presented circular economy approaches of circular economy in many fields: building, agriculture, plastics, electrical equipment electrical equipment, circular economy in the territories, energy recovery...

Two specialists from Cerema, which is very present on these issues, particularly through its involvement in the 2EC label for reducing and recovering waste, spoke about the impact of public procurement in the circular economy dynamic, and to present a guide to be published on the management of materials resulting from the deconstruction of wastelands.


the role of public procurement in the construction and development in favour of the circular economy of building and public works materials

Chantier de construction d'immeuble en facade et ossature bois

This presentation by Agathe Denot, Head of Studies Circular Economy and Preservation of Resources at Cerema, presented the provisions that allow public contractors to promote the circular economy in development and construction projects. Today, the share of recycled aggregates in the construction industry remains limited: less than 10% of aggregate production in 2018 according to UNICEM.

In order to reduce the consumption of raw materials the reduction of waste and the recycling of materials are encouraged by public public policies: the 2015 law on energy transition for Green Growth (LTECV) defines the circular economy and introduces new rules for waste prevention and waste management, and the law anti-waste and circular economy law (AGEC) of 2020 completes the scheme.

Thus, all the stakeholders of the act are concerned, and the principals can develop circular economy approaches. Through public procurement, they play a role in driving this approach in construction and development projects.

The client is in fact the first link in the implementation of a circular economy on their sites: during earthworks, deconstruction or renovation of buildings or infrastructure, waste can be generated. Also, materials are needed to construction and development of the community.

Through its construction site, the client, responsible for the waste for the waste he will generate, can set requirements in terms of prevention and management of waste and the use of materials from reuse (mainly goods or materials from another site) and recycling (mainly materials from a recycling facility).

In order to set targets in public procurement contracts, the principals rely on regulatory regulatory requirements:

  • The work must, as a priorit, prevent the production of waste.

  • The waste must be directed to local channels for reuse or recycling.



The client must therefore be aware of the materials and waste generated by the design of of his project and the recycling stakeholders in the area. Thus, before the works, he carries out a provisional diagnosis to know the nature and quantity of the waste, the possibilities of reuse and local waste management channels.

The diagnosis, mandatory for the renovation and deconstruction of certain buildings (article R111-43 of the of the building code), can be extended to all building and public works. It is integrated into the contracts of project management and works contracts. All materials must be traceable to their final recovery


A reflection must also be carried out on also be carried out on the materials needed for the construction or development. In this context, the regulations set a minimum percentage for the incorporation of maintenance sites, a minimum share of incorporation of materials resulting from the reuse or recycling of waste.

chantier de construction d'immeubles

To facilitate proposals for materials from reuse and recycling, the obligation or the possibility of proposing a variant can be written into the contracts. Also, the need in materials or products can be written in terms of performance and not in terms of typology or origin.

Through its knowledge elements upstream of the work, the client can detail the policy that it wishes to carry out for the building site without restricting the competition.

This includes defining the reuse and recycling objectives. recycling. To achieve these objectives, the contracts must integrate the elements concerning :

  • The organization of the (selective deconstruction, sorting, type of treatment, temporary storage, etc.).

  • The priorities given reuse and recycling.

  • The controls of performance of reused materials, outgoing waste and incoming materials from recycling.

  • The traceability of waste and materials resulting from reuse, re-employment and recycling.

The type of market selected can also be facilitator for the implementation of a circular economy. Specific procedures can simplify the process and allow for negotiation. In particular, experimental contracts can be drafted to test the reuse or the use of alternative materials by calling for innovative proposals from companies.


The mineral resources resulting from the rehabilitation of wasteland at the service of the economy of the building and public works sector

Usine du nord en friche avec déchets au 1er plan
Brownfield in the North of France - Cerema

The second intervention by Aymeric Perrin, in charge of circular economy studies, aimed at presenting the Cerema's forthcoming guide "Optimizing the management of mineral resources from the rehabilitation of wastelands". in partnership with the INDURA cluster as part of the IDfriches program, it will be published in fall.

In a context where we are trying to reduce the artificialization of soils, wastelands constitute a land reservoir that communities are led to rehabilitate, but which often require major deconstruction work and which generate a production of mineral waste, for which they are responsible.

The law now requires to reduce the use of raw materials to a minimum and to rehash 70% of waste from the construction industry. The objective is to use :

  • priority to resources resources from recycling or renewable sources,

  • and recyclable resources,

  • and finally to take into account the analysis of the life cycle (evaluation of the environmental impact of materials over their entire lifespan) of other types of resources.

The guide deals in particular with concretes, asphalt mixes, excavated bituminous mixes, excavated earth, mineral wools flat glass, plaster and clay products. It part of these materials can be reused by integrating the circular economy into the deconstruction and reconstruction operations of brownfields.

The guide aims to accompany the evolution of practices in this field: it presents to project owners the approach to follow during the preliminary studies for the rehabilitation of a wasteland, in order to promote the circular economy of mineral resources.

The project owner implements the economy approach from the preparation phase with the realization of a diagnosis of available resources: What are the areas of reuse of the various materials? What are the recycling or recovery solutions? Who are the local stakeholders? Which additional studies are necessary for their recovery?

The diagnosis of resources allows to anticipate upstream solutions for reuse, recycling or recovery, and to identify the stakeholders and users of recovered materials.

The role of the project owner in the management of the site is also important: For example, the site must be planned according to different stages of deconstruction, by storage areas or the installation of mobile treatment units.

The project owner also integrates the criteria in the contracts for various contracts for various lots. As a producer of waste, they are responsible for it until its final disposal or recovery (waste tracking register, traceability, sorting at source, respect of treatment standards...)

The guide is divided into 4 parts and provides information on on :

  • The regulatory framework, in particular the obligations related to the law of transition for green growth (LTECV) of 2015, the anti-waste and circular economy law (AGEC) of 2020 and the environmental code.

  • The responsibilities of the project owners, who are the producers of the waste and who play an essential role in the implementation of a circular economy approach.

  • Mineral resources, by means of operational sheets that specify their location on the wasteland, the possibilities of reuse, as well as the recycling channels.

  • The cost of managing mineral resources, to evaluate the financial impact of treatment to be done on site or in dedicated facilities.

The Label 2EC: developing the circular economy in construction

sacs de gravats

logo label 2EC

This national labelling process for construction projects is carried out by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity and led by by Cerema to highlight projects that integrate circular economy issues.

This label allows for an increase in the competence of all stakeholders in terms of prevention and management of waste from construction sites, as well as recovery of alternative materials.

It is based on the commitment of a project leader, but values all the participants. Private or public project owners, project managers and companies can assert their responsible approach and act in compliance with the regulations relating to the prevention and management of waste as well as the rules of environmental acceptability and sanitary rules for the recovery of alternative materials from non-hazardous waste.


Contacts Cerema