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The ERAIMAT project boosts the circular economy

Lucia Unamunzaga, Researcher in the Sustainability and Environment Area at AZTERLAN, together with her team, has introduced us to the ERAMAIT project, a new pillar on which to sustain the circular economy.

As we will see below, this is a very interesting proposal to develop new recycled construction materials by reusing certain waste from industry. The ERAMAIT project is constantly working to achieve quality results and it is very likely that a large amount of the supply will be of this style in the near future, as environmental needs favour and encourage projects that base their values on the circular economy itself. Without going any further, this is a clear example of how the green economy opens up new paths and, above all, new opportunities for those people and organisations that want to do their bit for the environment.

What does the ERAIMAT project consist of and which are the participating companies?

The ERAIMAT project aims to demonstrate the validity, from a technical, economic and environmental point of view, of the valorisation of foundry waste sand in mortar and concrete products. The entities participating in the project are: the foundries DRAXTON ATXONDOFAGOR EDERLAN, FUMBARRI, the mortar manufacturing company BIKAIN and the technology centre FUNDACIÓN AZTERLAN.

What are the benefits of developing materials from foundry waste sand?

Developing new business models based on the circular economy and industrial symbiosis. Reducing the extraction of sand and gravel from quarries (a natural resource) and avoiding the dumping of foundry sand (a practice that is currently being continuously penalised for this waste stream). Technically, foundry sand of a siliceous nature can provide better strength in material mixes where limestone aggregates are usually used and at a more advantageous price.

What are the biggest challenges in recycling building materials?

The greatest technical challenges of using foundry sands in concrete and mortar mixes are associated with their high fineness index and the content of certain components that require a greater amount of water in mortar and concrete mixes to achieve the desired consistency or working fluidity. These limiting characteristics lead to work on the development of formulations adapted to foundry sands in order to avoid a decline in strength.

What are the future prospects of the project?

To draw conclusions on the influence of foundry sands on the quality and durability of mortars and concretes.

The recycling of materials is experiencing a great boost recently. What do you consider to be the reasons for this?

New regulations concerning the restriction of landfilling.

How can digitalisation help to improve the use of waste and recyclable materials?

Digital solutions can help to better collect and treat waste, and facilitate reuse and recycling by sharing information and connecting relevant actors along the value chain.

Do you see the industrial sector taking advantage of new waste recovery options, or is there still a long way to go?

It is gaining more and more ground, but it is not only a change of culture, but sometimes the introduction of secondary raw materials from recovery means changes in processes and costs.

What do you find interesting about the recycling industry platform ScrapAd?

It is interesting because it allows buyers and sellers of recyclable material to be easily connected.

What kind of added value could ScrapAd offer to your project?

Accelerate the introduction of foundry sands into other markets or uses.

Finally, do you think that technological tools like ScrapAd save work for companies in the sector?

Definitely, as long as the materials meet the buyer’s expectations.

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