Eco-logic

Why Is Construction Waste Not Being Reused in Israel?

Government decision to use the recycled material in building projects is not being enforced.

Zafrir Rinat

Recycling construction waste is becoming virtually impossible because the industries that should use it are not buying it from recycling sites. Manufacturers who process the waste products have appealed to the government to enforce existing rules that oblige government contractors to use recycled materials.

They also want standards changed to develop additional uses for waste materials that would allow the recyclers to market their products to construction and infrastructure projects.

The extent of the problem is suggested by the huge mountain of recycled construction waste material that has been piling up in the Bareket Recycling Park near Shoham in recent months.

The site’s operators invested a large amount of money to buy and operate facilities that sort and crush construction waste in order to recycle it. However, they find it impossible to market the product, which serves mainly as filler material for infrastructures.

A cabinet decision stipulates that at least a fifth of the raw materials government corporations use in their projects is recycled construction waste products, but apparently this decision is not being implemented.

Yigdal Ach, who runs the Bareket sorting and recycling facility, says that so far he has sold only a very small part of the recycled products to construction and infrastructure companies. “All the decisions requiring the use of recycled refuse didn’t do any good,” he says.

“There are numerous projects in the central region to build neighborhoods and pave roads, but we can’t market the material. We can’t bear the costs of operating the recycling project any more. If in a few weeks it won’t change, we’ll use the site only to bury refuse.”

This means that considerable resources that can be used will be thrown away and buried.

Yossi Israeli Shalev of the TECO group, a partner in running sites for recycling construction waste in Na’an, Shafia and Tur’an, says “we have a problem in marketing the recycled material. The decision to use the recycled material is not being enforced, neither in the tender-issuing stage nor in the implementation stage. It’s easier for contractors to use material from quarries and the price of the recycled material isn’t low enough by comparison to change the situation.”

“We included the demand to use recycled material in our tenders,” says Shimon Nesichi, chief scientist of the National Roads Company of Israel. “Recently we made use of hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of this material in road building projects in the Rehovot and Hadera regions. However, we give priority to using the material produced during our works. Also there are cases in which the recycled material is too far away,” he says.

Nesichi said the Standards Institute is preparing a standard for recycled material that will enable to use it in a greater variety of building products and infrastructures.

Orly Inditzky, deputy CEO in the Solel Boneh construction company, says the company makes an effort to use as much recycled material as possible. But in some cases it gives priority to recycled earth surplus, which is cheaper. In other cases there’s a shortage in accessible recycled construction waste. There are also cases in which the existing standards do not enable using recycled construction refuse, she says.