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Valobat: Normalizing Eco-construction via Waste Management

Valobat: Normalizing Eco-construction via Waste Management
Courtesy of Synaxe

Nearly a year after the rollout of its waste management app for the construction industry, ValoDépôt, the French organization Valobat announces its upcoming platform to find products for reuse and a new sector for the disposal of professional packaging – among other news.

In France, approximately 45 million tons of waste are generated annually in the construction industry, excluding public works, with about 10 million tons ending up in landfills despite the potential for recycling and reuse, according to the team behind Valobat. Although public works account for 246 million tons of waste, equivalent to 3/4 of the overall waste, as stated in an article published by the government; Valobat focuses on facilitating waste management for professionals impacted by the the Anti-Waste and Circular Economy Law (AGEC) of February 10, 2020, which mandates regulations for building waste.

Valobat, established in July 2021, is dedicated to transforming production and consumption models, particularly within the building sector, by promoting circular economy principles and sustainable waste management practices. The organization operates under an inclusive governance model including 51 industry leaders in Building Construction Products and Materials (PMCB) committed to driving environmental change. With the launch of the ValoDépôt app in June 2023, Valobat aims to facilitate the collection and management of construction waste, addressing regulatory mandates and pushing for greener practices. Serving as a facilitator, Valobat collaborates with manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and waste operators to ensure compliance with Extended Producer Responsibility (REP) requirements. 

“Over 8,000 companies have signed contracts with Valobat, mainly composed of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) representing various sectors within the construction industry,” the team of Valobat stated during the April 9, 2024, conference in Marseille.

Through initiatives like the Valobat Tour and strategic partnerships, Valobat fosters dialogue and champions collaborative solutions for a more sustainable future. Nearing the end of the third edition of its month-long tour, Valobat has announced a host of current and upcoming evolutions to its services. In January 2024, the organization added two new sectors—Furniture and DIY & Garden—, and is planning to establish the “recycling” category by the end of May. Also, scheduled for June 2024, Valobat plans to release a new platform dedicated to finding products for reuse in local shops

ValoDépôt app. Courtesy of ZiltenPro.
Courtesy of Pigment Libre

Pioneering the Green Transformation in Construction Waste Management

The ongoing Valobat Tour, running from March 26 to April 16, engages stakeholders across the Extended Producer Responsibility (REP) framework, spanning manufacturers, distributors, contractors, waste operators, and reuse advocates. In its third edition, the tour evaluates the outcomes of Valobat’s initiatives, and expands drop-off points, on-site waste recovery, and warehouse collection services, while also outlining future challenges and opportunities.

Valobat has achieved significant milestones in waste management, with the establishment of a collection system across France. This includes over 1,080 distributor collection points, 250 professional waste disposal sites, 309 public waste disposal sites, and 50 inert waste recycling platforms. Additionally, the organization has contributed to the creation of nearly 1,000 new waste collection facilities, assisting more than 750 large construction sites since late October, resulting in the collection or financial support for nearly 800,000 tons of inert and non-inert waste. The organization recently began supporting a selection of promising reuse and refurbishment storage projects, such as Cycle Up and La Boite X. One of its current goals is to establish 5,000 collection points by the end of 2024, including private distributors, professional waste centers, public disposal sites, and recycling platforms.

Their approach aligns with the core missions outlined in the Anti-Waste and Circular Economy Law (AGEC) of February 10, 2020, which mandates REP implementation for building waste. These missions include overseeing end-of-life management, facilitating waste collection, fostering value creation through recycling, and promoting industry-wide best practices.

In response to the evolving regulatory landscape, Valobat has structured its operations into nine product sectors, from metals and wood to plastics and mineral wools, ensuring comprehensive coverage under the REP framework for large enterprises and smaller entities. Recognizing the urgent need for a comprehensive waste management solution, Valobat broadened its scope beyond PMCB to include Furniture and DIY & Garden products under the REP mandate since January 2024

La Boite X. Courtesy of the company.
Cycle Up. Courtesy of the company.
Valobat conference in Marseille on April 9, 2024. Image: ArchiExpo e-Magazine.

Main Challenges for 2024 and Upcoming Advancements for 2025

As Valobat looks ahead to the challenges of 2024, it recognizes the critical need for market players to comply with regulations governing waste management. While there’s been rapid progress in compliance among manufacturers and distributors, some entities still lag due to complexity or lack of awareness. Addressing this issue requires concerted efforts to educate and incentivize non-compliant companies while ensuring robust measures are in place to penalize violations. The stakes are high, with non-compliance risking penalties and back payments of eco-contributions, highlighting the importance of comprehensive enforcement mechanisms. 

While the deployment of collection services is underway, increasing awareness and fostering behavioral changes are essential to ensure the widespread adoption of sorting practices. One notable initiative is the upcoming trial of a free service for construction waste removal. This approach seeks to streamline waste management processes by offering convenient and cost-effective—potentially free—solutions to stakeholders in the construction industry. The experiment will involve up to 350 construction sites to test the effectiveness of financial support (resource diagnostics, support for reuse, selective dismantling, transportation, reuse) and to calibrate sustainable support for 2025.

“For now, the transportation between the construction site and the consolidation center is not covered by the eco-organizations. For this year, we’d originally planned to cover up to 50%. Following several discussions, the State decided to postpone this 50% coverage by one year and to take advantage of 2024 to conduct an experiment starting from now. The idea is to experiment on 2,000 construction sites, 1,000 of which will be supported and 1,000 others that will not be supported, to ultimately see if the transportation coverage has an impact on the recovery rates,” the Valobat team stated during the April 9, 2024, conference in Marseille.

Looking ahead to 2025, Valobat is committed to leveraging advancements in technology and service development to overcome these challenges and drive innovation in waste management. As the team has been testing a variation of a sector for the disposal of professional packaging, its plan to launch a dedicated section for PP in 2025 seems to be en route. 

Tools to assess product recyclability, assistance with environmental information transmission, and eco-design support are among the services being developed to support market players. Furthermore, strategies to accelerate waste sorting, including awareness campaigns and training programs, will be intensified to encourage both small and large companies in the construction sector to embrace sustainable practices. With a proactive approach and investment in solutions, Valobat is poised to lead the industry toward a more sustainable future.

Photo credit: Raboni Bercy.
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