As a business, Holcim is scaling-up circular construction using construction demolition materials. How important a role do you see them playing in a shift towards a circular economy?
Demolition waste is playing a huge role in the transition to a circular economy. Though I prefer not to call it waste. It is a resource for new buildings or infrastructure projects. In the past, we allowed ourselves to call things “waste” - while it is a fact that they are valuable resources for future processes and products. Now, we see more clearly how valuable these resources are because we are running out of them.
We have allowed a lot of negative effects on climate. The more we think in a circular way, the more we plan our cities. For example, a circular agenda for the building environment means you need space to host and share these resources.
We also need more collaboration and better policies. A couple of countries (for example the Netherlands, where I live), are front runners in that topic. Often these are countries with few resources, and it is all about how to use these resources in the best way possible. The important questions are: what kind of collaborations do we need, and what kind of policies do we need to focus on? We are progressing compared to the last decade. Now, we need to accelerate this progress even more to reach the climate goals as well as our social and economic goals.
How important a part will the business sector play in the circular transition?
I think it has been very interesting to observe that in the last twelve months, some CEOs in the cement industry have really changed and rethought their strategies and rhetoric. They are talking about the circular economy as one of the main business opportunities of our time. It is also one of the main strategies to be implemented, which I think is a wise move. It means we’ll have a lot of new thinking and collaboration. I think it makes business sense and it is also the right thing to do to future-proof your company. Those who will have circular economy strategies in place will benefit from them.