Climate neutrality

New study: up to €40 million business opportunity in concrete waste

VTT was commissioned by the Helsinki-Uusimaa Circular Valley to investigate the material flows and business opportunities of construction and demolition in Helsinki-Uusimaa. The results show that the generation of construction waste is strongly concentrated in the metropolitan area.


Waste from demolition activities in Helsinki accounts for about 21% of all construction waste generated in Helsinki-Uusimaa, and is mostly concrete. Currently, most of the concrete waste is recycled as waste in construction and groundworks. The recent study shows that concrete waste created from demolition activities has a especially significant business potential of up to €40 million, which could be realised through recycling and reuse as well as in terms of savings in material costs. Other demolition fractions, such as wood, bricks and internal structures, also have potential for reuse and savings.

– It is important to take advantage of this business potential and more pilots are now needed, for example in intact demolition,” says Malin zu Castell-Rüdenhausen, a circular economy expert at VTT.

The most effective way to save is not to demolish.

The building sector is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions. One effective way to reduce emissions is to reduce the production of new materials. The most effective way to save is not to demolish: for example, if 25% of buildings were not demolished and rebuilt, 130 kilotonnes of concrete waste would be avoided and €11 million would be saved in concrete use. Construction and demolition flows are key to developing new business based on reuse – saving the value of materials and significantly reducing carbon emissions.

The public sector has an important role to play in supporting business

Changes in the construction sector require support from the public sector. Construction professionals interviewed for the VTT study feel that procurement conditions and procurement expertise can influence business practices and create models for the private sector.

Clearer conditions for selective demolition and higher standards for recycling, recycled materials and re-use could be effective tools. Logistical challenges and zoning factors can also support re-use, which requires temporary storage, short distances between sites and effective coordination between municipalities and businesses.

Helsinki-Uusimaa Circular Valley takes the circular economy forward with businesses

The Helsinki-Uusimaa Circular Valley, which operates under the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, promotes the circular economy in the region, particularly in the construction, textiles, plastics, food and electronics sectors, in cooperation with local businesses. The results of the construction sector material flow mapping should be used to build new pilots and projects in the construction sector, as well as to strengthen cooperation and create opportunities for different actors to exploit new markets.

Read more: Construction value chain in Helsinki-Uusimaa Region – Opportunities in the transition to a circular economy (pdf, in Finnish)

More information:

Pipsa Salolammi
Helsinki-Uusimaa Circular Valley
+358 40 592 7554

Malin zu Castell-Rüdenhausen
Senior Scientist

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