Quantifying the Impact of Circular Economy Applied to the Built Environment: A Study of Construction and Demolition Waste to Identify Leverage Points
The built environment is responsible for a significant portion of global waste generation.
Construction and demolition (C&D) waste requires significant landfill areas and costs
billions of dollars. New business models that reduce this waste may prove to be financially
beneficial and generally more sustainable. One such model is referred to as the “Circular
Economy” (CE), which promotes the efficient use of materials to minimize waste
generation and raw material consumption. CE is achieved by maximizing the life of
materials and components and by reclaiming the typically wasted value at the end of their
life. This thesis identifies the potential opportunities for using CE in the built environment.
It first calculates the magnitude of C&D waste and its main streams, highlights the top
C&D materials based on weight and value using data from various regions, identifies the
top C&D materials’ current recycling and reuse rates, and finally estimates a potential
financial benefit of $3.7 billion from redirecting C&D waste using the CE concept in the