Economy & Politics

Pebbles in builders’ shoes

If housing remains one of the priorities of policies and if construction sites are flourishing across the country, the construction sector sometimes appears powerless when it comes to storing the more than 7.5 million tonnes of rubble produced each year. A problem that could affect the speed of execution of large projects

If housing remains one of the priorities of policies and if construction sites are flourishing across the country, the construction sector sometimes appears powerless when it comes to storing the more than 7.5 million tonnes of rubble produced each year. A problem that could affect the speed of execution of large projects

(DH with Thomas Klein) – While the budget of the Ministry of Housing has just been boosted and should increase to more than 260 million euros to face the shortage of affordable housing and the private sector is handling the trowel all around, professionals in the sector are faced with a down-to-earth reality: what to do next with inert waste?

Because building involves moving tons of earth, demolishing, excavating or even pouring foundations. Rubble that must then be stored when the landfills provided for this purpose are already saturated. For example, around 150,000 cubic meters of earth will have to be removed to build the new “Lentille Terres Rouges” eco-district in Esch-sur-Alzette. Likewise, the “Südspidol” will produce nearly 300,000 m³ of inert waste, which corresponds to filling tippers of 25,000 to 90,000 trucks of construction sites.


With an 11% inflated budget for the Ministry of Housing and a package of measures announced, the government is giving itself more resources to deal with the shortage of affordable housing. “From posting”, scolds the opposition.


Something to worry the Groupement des entrepreneurs especially as the existing landfills reach their storage capacities and that practically no new area has been built for decades. Pol Faber, the secretary general of the Groupement des entrepreneurs, but also a member of the board of directors of the recyma deposit and recycling company, is worried. All the more so since only five landfills are capable of storing large quantities of inert waste to date.

“Hosingen and Nothum are quite small, but these stations cover the North quite well,” says Pol Faber. “Then we have Gadderscheier (municipality of Differdange), which is about to run out of space, and Folschette, where getting there is quite complicated.” “The only landfill that has good transport conditions, near a highway, is Colmar-Berg. But it’s a terrible rush. Trucks must stay in traffic jams for almost an hour before unloading. “

In addition, if the old quarries of Altwies or Brouch have the merit of existing, the storage capacities remain minimal. And the situation is not about to improve in the short term. “The places in Luxembourg where a landfill can be opened are very limited. In particular because of the Environmental Protection. “Or again, by the fact that you have to buy the land from sometimes 50 or 100 owners”, underlines Pol Faber. Without counting the reluctance. Who would want a landfill near their home?

What to do with oil shale?

Another problem is that not all landfills can store certain waste, in particular oil shale. Only one is in capacity, that of Sanem. And the latter has to face a considerable influx following the major projects around the Iron Metropolis (the new hospital, the A3, the Eurohub Sud, the Cactus Lallange). This represents nearly 940,000 m³ to be treated. Is the solution then to be found by turning to neighboring countries?

Not really since Germany has already closed its landfills to foreign companies. In France and Belgium, the possibilities are very limited. “We must therefore ensure that landfills are better distributed geographically,” says René Winkin, director of Fedil.

“It makes sense that the rubble is stored where it is and that you don’t have to transport it across the country,” he says. “This not only makes construction projects more expensive, and also unnecessarily increases pollution. ” “A truck currently has to travel an average of 70 kilometers to be able to deliver a load of rubble.

If it were possible to reduce this journey to 30 km round trip, we could produce up to 10,000 tonnes of CO2 less, ”explains Pol Faber. The latter believes that construction of 15 landfills, distributed throughout the territory, would be necessary to control the problem.


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