Project results

  • Developed a series of reports exploring recycling possibilities focusing on steel, asphalt, plastics and materials that are regularly recycled.

  • These reports became the basis of the Material Strategy of the Ministryfor Infrastructure, Road and Water Management.

  • Advise was further provided on how to implement the Materials Strategy.


Decisions about circular materials in construction projects need to be made now

To become circular by 2050, the challenge is not what we are recycling now, but whether materials currently used for structures can be recycled in 2050. If components are usedthat preclude future recycling, it places a future economic burden on the company as disposal will imply cost.

 Erik van Dijk

Senior Consultant in Circular Economy at Royal HaskoningDHV

“For example, foundations for highways operated by Rijkswaterstaat frequently used to be built using aggregates from waste incineration ashes. These aggregates were cheaper than other aggregates. However, future environmental risks and disposal costs led to this material being banned from such use under highways.”

Circular economy requires future thinking to anticipate changing requirements and resources

Rijkswaterstaat contracted Royal HaskoningDHV to produce a series of reports exploring possibilities for recycling as well as why materials cannot be recycled -for example if they are mixed. These reports form the basis of the Materials Strategy for Rijkswaterstaat. The first report focused on concrete, steel, asphalt, and plastics; the second addressed materials that are regularly recycled; and the third considered materials in general. Further advice was provided in a later study on how to implement the Materials Strategy.

Part of the complexity involved in producing the reports was the need to look beyond materials in use today and consider broader changes that are taking place. For example, fly ash from coal-fired power stations used in concrete production will no longer be available in 2050. Another example is, the transition from new road building to predominantly maintenance will require a new purpose to be found for the huge quantities of mixed aggregates currently used in road construction. Mixed aggregates are made from construction and demolition debris.

“To become circular, we need to anticipate what will be different in the future,” said Erik. “Society, infrastructure and the way we operate will all change. We need to start now with a sense of urgency because 2050 is not far away.”

Learn more about Leading with Sustainability or download our publications

Project facts

  • Client
    Ministry for Infrastructure, Road and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat)
  • Location
  • Licensee
  • Wastewater
    A material study investigating the future risks of non-circularity of building materials currently used.
  • Project type
    A series of multiple reports exploring the possibilities for recycling and why materials cannot be recycled.