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Waste Management 31 (2011) 199200

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Waste Management
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/wasman


Sustainable management of waste and recycled materials in construction

Since early 1990 the interest in using alternative materials (sec- large, monolithic structures, blocks, is negligible, at the end of life
ondary raw materials or former waste materials) in construction the concrete or the brick may end up as a small size aggregate with
has grown continuously. This is in line with key environmental a signicantly different environmental impact e.g. through leach-
policies: waste prevention, material reuse and recycling, energy ing. Moreover, the resulting aggregate may be further recycled in
recovery from waste, saving primary sources and avoiding landll similar or different applications or products. A better understand-
to the extent possible. When alternative materials are used in dif- ing of the multiple use of alternative materials in construction
ferent elds of application, the economic aspects, technical quality applications is needed for setting criteria to ensure sustainable
objectives and environmental issues all need to be addressed and benecial use of alternative materials in construction.
balanced. It makes little sense to recycle an abundant and cheap (d) Adequate leaching test methods were developed since sev-
waste material in an application not meeting the technical or envi- eral decades to assess the environmental impact of the use of alter-
ronmental standards; a technically and environmentally comply- native materials in construction. Over the years we have seen a
ing application using alternative materials, but with a much steady increase in the use of more sophisticated tests allowing a
higher total cost than the traditional solution, also is not useful. better understanding of the release of substances under actual eld
This Waste Management special thematic issue deals with Envi- conditions and long-term constituent behaviour. These methods
ronmental implications of alternative materials in construction will soon, both in Europe and in the US, be turned into fully vali-
and treatment of wastes. The issue is a grouped collation of papers dated tools for regulatory purposes. Further harmonization of
submitted regularly to the Journal and selected papers originally these methods across different elds may be feasible in the future.
presented at the 2009 WASCON Conference, upgraded for undergo- (e) The effort (time and cost) needed to characterize the release
ing the normal peer-review process. The WASCON conference ser- behaviour of substances from a variety of materials and products
ies, held every three years since 1991, are promoted and has hampered the introduction and acceptance of these tests. This
coordinated by the international non-prot organisation ISCOWA was mitigated by development of a tiered approach: when a mate-
in order to exchange information regarding the technical and envi- rial or product has been adequately characterized, simplied test-
ronmental aspects of construction with industrial by-products. ing preferably based on just one test condition of the more
Although in the eld of using alternative materials in construc- elaborate tests, sufces to judge compliance of a material or prod-
tion a lot of progress has already been made, several areas remain uct with prior data. Such a system that reduces the need for testing
where further research and development is needed: time and time again once a suitable reference base has been estab-
(a) Production methods of construction materials starting from lished, works most efciently, if reference data on materials and
waste materials have their special points of attention and are products are publicly available. To date, a considerable amount of
sometimes quite non-standard compared to regular production data has already been generated, but mostly not in a readily acces-
routes. Therefore, detailed and realistic investigations should be sible form. A public domain database containing a materials and
made to develop new methods or improve existing ones, rather products reference base will be very benecial for reducing testing
than copy regular production routes. Reporting such case studies needs, and for eliminating incorrect data by early warning of
could inspire other people to look for other applications. inconsistencies in data sets.
(b) All too often, only based on a few strength measurements (f) There is still some uncertainty debate on how well long-term
and a few leaching tests on a sample freshly produced in the lab, leaching behaviour in specied scenarios can be predicted based
it is claimed that large scale application by recycling of an alterna- on laboratory leaching tests and making use of geochemical mod-
tive material is feasible. The technical aspects of such large scale elling. Proper verication of model predictions against eld obser-
application, the durability aspect, the end of life fate of the vations is the only way to provide an answer.
construction material were indeed often neglected. Long-term The articles presented in this Special Thematic Issue are orga-
durability in realistic conditions, which of course inuences envi- nized in four groups. The rst group addresses the interpretation,
ronmental impact and sustainability, is not easy to address, since modelling and use of leaching tests in a regulatory context. The
practical experience with the use of alternative materials is rela- second group addressed municipal solid waste incinerator bottom
tively short. In order to address this aspect properly, input from ash quality and its use in road base application and as an aggregate
the end user is indispensable. in cement based applications. The third group addresses municipal
(c) If more and more alternative material from different sources solid waste incinerator y ash processing to reduce release of envi-
will be recycled in nal construction products, e.g. bottom ash or ronmentally critical substances. The last group addresses ecotoxi-
y ash in concrete or in bricks, also the level of contaminants in cological aspects of energy ash and technological options for the
the concrete structures or bricks, will increase. Even if the level utilisation of different wastes of a liner based on a gypsum coal
of environmental impact e.g. through contaminant leaching from y ash mix.

0956-053X/$ - see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
200 Editorial / Waste Management 31 (2011) 199200

Carlo Vandecasteele Hans van der Sloot

Department of Chemical Engineering, Hans van der Sloot Consultancy,
Catholic University of Leuven, Langedijk,
Leuven, Belgium The Netherlands
E-mail address: Carlo.Vandecasteele@cit.kuleuven.be E-mail address: hans@vanderslootconsultancy.nl

Carlo Vandecasteele is professor of Environmental Technology at the University of Leuven, Department of Chemical Engineering. His research
interests are recycling and energetic valorization of waste, and evaluation of the environmental impact and sustainability of industrial pro-
duction processes, waste incineration, regions, industrial parks. He authored numerous research papers and books. In addition to courses closely
related to his research, he teaches environmental technology and industry and sustainable development and was guest professor at several
universities. He is chairman of ISCOWA.

Dr. Hans Albert van der Sloot studied Chemistry at the Free University in Amsterdam (Ph.D. in 1976). He held different positions in the
Netherlands Energy Research Foundation (ECN, Petten) until December 2009. He now runs a private consultancy. He has been involved in
standardisation of leaching tests for waste, soil and construction products at national and international level (CEN, ISO, US EPA). He is Associate
editor for Waste Management, member of IWWG and active in developing a decision support tool for environmental impact assessment