In 2011, toom became the first DIY store to introduce emulsion paint in tubs made out of recycled plastic. Photo: toom
Recycled materials in the construction industry
Back in 2011, toom was the first German DIY store to offer its own-brand emulsion paint in plastic packaging made entirely from recycled materials, namely previously recycled plastics. This cut CO2 emissions by 30% in comparison to the tubs made out of normal plastic, according to company statistics. Within seven years, between 2011 to 2018, that amounted to a saving of around 900 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
The switch to packaging made of recycled materials is constantly being driven forward in this company. More and more product packaging is set to follow this trend. In addition, the Cologne-based chain of DIY stores will demonstrate that it can push sustainability even further by rethinking its product ranges.
For example, there’s an area where screws and hardware are sold individually so that the customer can buy smaller quantities to suit their own demands. Polythene bags and smaller paper bags are on offer as packaging.
A growing consciousness that we must all do our part to protect the climate and resources, along with scarcity of raw materials and legal regulations, have induced more and more industries to rethink and reorient themselves towards closed loops. This is also the case in the construction sector, where experts are demanding that the circular economy is implemented consistently. However, the industry still needs to weigh up where measures can be implemented in an overall survey. In a press report for UmweltDialog magazine, Prof. Rupert Baumgartner, from the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Sustainable Product Management enabling a Circular Economy, stated that a circular economy only makes sense if the ecological and social benefits brought about by circular economic activity, for example recycling, are greater than the drawbacks that they require. If recycling results in greater negative effects on the environment than disposal, it makes no sense from an ecological perspective.
Studies such as the study for ecological urban and regional development by the Leibniz Institute have undertaken scientific observation of recycling for certain construction materials. The results show that from an energy perspective, recycling construction waste and rubble is generally a good idea. However, recycling isn’t necessarily beneficial for all construction materials throughout their entire life cycle. Energy balance reports generally support recycling for plastics. However, for mineral-based products, this depends on the quality requirements for the new application.