Building waste: construction companies up against the wall

The death of the mayor of Signes, in the Var, overthrown in August 2019 by a van that came to dump construction waste into nature, had moved the whole of France. This tragic news item will have at least had a concrete effect: on the 1is July, new regulatory provisions come into effect to deter the phenomenon of unpacking, this building waste dumped on unauthorized land, with or without the agreement of their owners.

This provision is part of the anti-waste law for a circular economy (Agec). The first obligation for craftsmen is to establish, in each estimate for renovation, construction or demolition work, an estimate of the quantity of waste generated, the procedures for managing and sorting this waste, and the collection points planned to receive them.

Transparency

It will also be necessary to notify the contracting authority of the cost of treating this waste. This last provision is crucial, according to Jean Passini, president of the Ecological Transition Commission of the National Building Federation (FNB), which brings together two-thirds of companies in the sector. “The challenge is to bring to light the way in which waste should be treated, to make it fair from one company to another and to empower the entire chain”, explains Jean Passini. – same CEO of a construction company.

This will make it possible to give a real place, in terms of costs and services, to the treatment of waste, according to him. Until now, the talk of construction companies to their clients has often been: “I manage, I include them in my prices. As a result, the client never had the possibility of knowing whether the choice made for their treatment was legal or not.

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Deposit slip

This first provision, if it is not respected by the entrepreneur, incurs a fine of up to 3,000 euros, for a natural person, and 15,000 euros for a legal person. But it is not less than 75,000 euros of fine and two years of imprisonment that risks a professional who does not submit to the second provision coming into force on this 1is July. In the event of an inspection or at the request of the contracting authority, he must present a deposit slip for this waste in an approved collection facility.

This provision already existed for hazardous waste, here it is generalized to inert waste (bricks, rubble, etc.) and “non-inert, non-hazardous” (wood, plastic, metal, etc.). In the Var, one of the departments most affected by the phenomenon of illegal dumping, environmental associations welcome this decision. “We have been asking for it for years,” notes Robert Durand, president of the Mediterranean Environment Confederation, which in 2019 identified more than 80 polluted sites in his department. “But afterwards, it is still necessary that this be applied, and that the companies are effectively controlled”, he hopes.

Free collection

The implementation, from next January, of free collection of building waste, on the condition that it is sorted, and this within the framework of the establishment of extended producer responsibility (EPR), should also contribute to eradicate illegal dumping. But the stake is wider. It is also a question of improving the recycling rate of certain products used in the building industry. “There are materials that we continue to bury when we know how to recycle them, such as plasterboard, whose recycling rate is only 15%, or flat glass, whose rate is only by a few percent, ”deplores Jean Passini.

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In total, building waste represents 46 million tonnes in France, including 10 million tonnes of construction waste, out of a total, households and economic activities combined, of 325 million tonnes produced each year.