LafargeHolcim, Switzerland, along with its subsidiary company, Geocycle, announced a cooperative agreement research project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) on July 22 to study how construction and demolition (C&D) materials can be used for energy recovery and mineral recycling.
Under this agreement, the ERDC will provide technical assistance and $3.4 million to conduct a waste characterization study and develop a basic research program to demonstrate how C&D debris from across U.S. military installations may be used to create alternative fuels and alternative raw materials for the production of new, more sustainable, construction materials.
“In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that approximately 600 million tons of construction and demolition debris was generated in the United States, which is more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste,” Sophie Wu, director of Geocycle North America, says. “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.”
This research will utilize resources at Geocycle’s Holly Hill Research Center in South Carolina and Holcim Ltd.’s Global Innovation Center in Lyon, France. Geocycle, a provider of industrial, agricultural and municipal waste management services with U.S. headquarters in Dundee, Michigan, works to develop innovative waste management techniques combined with proven co-processing technology, the company says.
“We expect this partnership to lead to waste reduction opportunities at Army installations,” Stephen Cosper, an environmental engineer and project manager at ERDC, says. “We’re very excited about how this project can positively impact our military installations and our environment in the future.”
The research team will begin by conducting a waste characterization study at a number of military installations facing significant construction and demolition debris. Construction materials will then be evaluated for possible co-processing opportunities, including energy recovery, mineral reuse and mineral recovery. Information obtained as part of this research will help the USACE identify ways to reduce waste, increase its circular economy, and avoid landfill costs and associated emissions.
“In the U.S., LafargeHolcim’s sustainability goals are at the heart of our research agenda. While we are proud to offer some of the leading low-carbon, sustainable building products in the market today, we want to make sure we develop the next generation of materials needed to reach our net-zero goal,” Toufic Tabbara, CEO of U.S. Cement at LafargeHolcim, says. “This partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help us identify solutions that can help drive the circular economy, reduce landfill waste, and lower our carbon emissions nationwide.”
The cooperative agreement is supported by funds appropriated to the Department of Defense, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers’ research organization, the Engineer Research and Development Center.