- Building material company LafargeHolcim and subsidiary waste-management service company Geocycle are partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the potential use of construction and demolition materials for energy renewal and mineral recycling, according to a press release.
- The research will focus on turning waste and raw debris into alternative construction materials and fuel supplies. Funds for this project come from the Department of Defense and the USACE's Engineer Research and Development Center.
- The bulk of the efforts will be focused on characterizing waste at military bases and seeing if the debris is eligible for "co-processing," which allows it to be broken down by mineral elements and energy elements, according to Geocycle.
The U.S. military is looking to adapt its construction processes, and the research partnership between LafargeHolcim/Geocycle and USACE is one such example.
"We expect this partnership to lead to waste reduction opportunities at Army installations," said Stephen Cosper, an environmental engineer and project manager at ERDC, in the press release. "We're very excited about how this project can positively impact our military installations and our environment in the future."
The move toward renewable energy is gaining momentum as climate change climbs higher on the list of governmental priorities around the world. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. produced 600 million tons of construction and demolition debris, more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste, in 2018. Out of those 600 million tons, 455 million were sent to "next-use" cases, which means that they were used again in products like mulch or fuel. However, that left about 145 million tons in landfills.
"The partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help us better understand this material and see how we can create a circular economy program leading to a zero-waste future," Sophie Wu, the director of Geocycle North America, said in the press release.
Recycling materials for construction has also been seen in other cases both in the U.S. and abroad. Domestically, the city of Pittsburgh will begin deconstructing buildings this fall and reusing them in other projects. Internationally, the HS2 project in the United Kingdom is repurposing old wind turbines and reinforcing concrete with the blades. The blades will be ground up and then put in the concrete, cutting back on carbon production by 90%.