Austrian social enterprises develop a business model for re-use of building materials

Construction and demolition waste is the most voluminous waste stream generated in the EU and a priority waste stream according to the European Commission. Last year Austria introduced a progressive regulation to prevent waste of high-value material by boosting re-use of construction and demolition components. In response, a project was launched to exercise re-use on a large-scale demolition work for the first time in Austria.

According to the Austrian Recycled Construction Materials Regulation[1] an audit for hazardous substances has to be carried out before a demolition work producing above 750 tonnes of waste and of gross building volume more than 3,500m³. The 2016 regulation added an obligation to also carry out an audit for re-usable building components. Potentially re-usable elements have to be identified and if there is concrete demand they have to be removed and handed over in a way that doesn’t hinder or make re-use impossible. Wooden parquets, bricks, stoneware, roof tiles, doors, windows, sanitary objects and radiators are examples of components that can be diverted from waste if dismantled properly.

Since practical experience on a large-scale was missing six organisations from Vienna set up the Baukarussell project in order to close this gap. The consortium of re-use social enterprises, a building designer and an ecological consultancy combine different perspectives and expertise with the aim to develop a service package for dismantling of large buildings.

The pilot started with the dismantling of a former bottling plant of an international beverage producer in Vienna which was carried out by social enterprises and primarily involved disadvantaged workers such as the long-term unemployed.

The demolition focused on manual dismantling, allowing for the re-use of building components and high-value recycling, and resulted in a turnover of 100 000 EUR and prevented 450,000 kg of waste. The amount of waste prevented corresponds to nearly 1 % of the total demolition mass, which is a remarkable amount for a pilot project.

Matthias Neitsch, Managing Director of the Austrian umbrella for re-use enterprises RepaNet said:
“According to our estimates up to 10% of the demolition mass could be diverted from waste by re-use. In Austria 9 000 jobs could be created by projects like Baukarussell and by engaging work integration enterprises marginalised people can be put back into work.”

[1] Available here (in German):

BauKarussell partners

RepaNet – Re-Use and Repair Network Austria, ROMM Architects – Forschen Planen Bauen, Caritas SÖB, DRZ – Demontage- und Recyclingzentrum Wien, WUK-Bildung und Beratung, pulswerk GmbH – Consulting company of the Austrian Institute for Ecology

More information here (in German)

[1] Available here (in German):


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