Today, contaminated soils, construction and demolition waste, slag and ashes make up more than 70% of the landfilled material in Norway. In addition, large amounts of clean surplus masses from construction activities ends up in deposits. This is not only a waste of valuable resources, but it is also a waste of valuable space.
The aim of the Center for Rescue of Earth Materials and Waste in the Circular Economy, earthresQue, is to develop technologies and systems for sustainable handling and treatment of waste and surplus masses. This requires a cross-disciplinary approach, and earthresQue will facilitate and encourage innovation through research initiated by the needs of the user partners from the construction and waste management industry, and the public sector. The project has 25 user partners representing different ends of the material flow and value chain. These will be working in close collaboration with 8 research institutions.
In some cases, technologies need to be developed. In other cases, regulatory and economic obstacles prevent a sustainable handling of surplus masses and wastes. Examples of innovations include techniques to sort valuable from hazardous wastes, new treatment processes for contaminated soils, and new technologies for making new raw materials and products from surplus masses. Furthermore, new methods to control and purify landfill leachate, and monitor gas leaks from landfills are needed.
System innovations to be expected from the project include new economic criteria and tax regulations to ensure sustainable business models and a circular waste sector. Other important outputs are new Environmental Product Declarations for technical solutions and for recycled earth materials and wastes. The center will give a significant boost to research, knowledge development and innovation towards sustainable use of earth resources.
Our society is generating excess earth-materials and waste at an ever-increasing rate. Currently no sustainable ways of handling excess earth materials and wastes are available, and we lack suited localities for their storage. These materials should be recycled, upcycled or reused in infrastructure/construction projects, instead of virgin raw materials. New innovations to strengthen the market for recycled raw materials are needed. The earthresQue centre will create an innovative environment through long-term cooperation between stakeholders (municipalities, NGOs and citizen groups), innovation-oriented R&D-performing companies (waste management companies and contractors) and prominent research groups working in relevant disciplines from natural sciences to socio-economical sciences. The centre will establish an outstanding industry-oriented research cluster building on an international network enhancing the internationalization of the Norwegian business sector. Ensure researcher training and the transfer of knowledge and technology in areas with major potential for future value creation. This is achieved through 3 technical workpackages: WP1. Reuse Technology; WP 2. Sustainable reuse; 3. Regulatory framework in addition to an extensive outreach and dissemination activity. The research work is centred around 8 case studies in close collaboration with 25 user group partners addressing the following research questions: How can new treatment processes for earth material wastes be developed to make these suitable as raw materials in new products? How can waste materials be managed in a sustainable manner, including all aspects of environmental, social and economic aspects? Including the management of old and future landfills. How can current obstacles for reuse be removed both in economic, regulatory, and governance terms? This includes business concepts to encompass society’s need for more reuse/-cycling and less use of virgin earth materials