Estonian Recycling Competence Center      (CDW RECYCLING)

The Estonian Recycling Competence Center                                            


Address: Peterburi tee 46,

11415 Tallinn, Estonia

Phone: 6181 618  


References: more information you can find here, here, here, here, here.



WHERE: Estonia
WHEN: 2011-2015
WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY: Prepairing for reuse; Recycling: Reuse – Reprocessing; Disposal: Rectification – Return – Waste Export      TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Education, information, awareness raising;
WASTE STREAMS: Construction and demolition waste

About: In an effort to overcome the apparent barriers in improving the quality of recycling and the market of CDW recycled products (e.g. recycled aggregates), the waste management sector in Estonia through its Waste Management Association initiated the creation of a Waste Recycling Cluster (eventually becoming the Recycling Competence Centre).

The activities of the Recycling Competence Centre are mainly focused on the development of different waste recycling projects (including international projects), trainings for all stakeholders in waste management/recycling and sharing internationally the experiences of Estonian companies in waste recycling. Further areas of focus include the development of standards and a certification scheme for recycled aggregates.


  • Increasing the amounts of waste recycled in Estonia
  • Developping products from CDW, compliant to quality standards and certified.
  • Increasing the production capacity and volumes, sales and international competitiveness.
Main Activities include:
– Development of different waste recycling projects.
– Training programs.
– Product certification.
– Consultation.

Possibilities to use recycled aggregates in road construction

Photo Source: Estonian Recycling Competence Center


1. Knowhow: the project benefitted by the participation of representatives of waste management / CDW sector and academic institutions.
2. Funding; budget: 662.000 EUR: 30% private funds provided by waste management com-panies and 70% EU funds, but further expenses led to about 50%/50% structure
3. Human resources: 45 people from the 21 project partners
4. Period of implementation: 01.01.2011 – 31.08.2015


  • Through this project, 3 large scale training programs have run, involving over 900 participants (private and public actors)
  • Construction of a test road for proof of concept by using recycled aggregates as a base material
  • Development of Recycling Competence Centre’s own trademark for certifying the quality of recycled products
  • Seminars and knowledge sharing workshops have been organized under the project, involving national and international stakeholders
  • Increasing CDW recycling.

Development of the test road Maardu-        Raasiku (No.11103) – Test section km                3.4-3.9

Photo Source:


Urban metabolism relevance

The practice proposes to completely change the approach to construction waste, trying to educate stakeholders to treat waste as material and not as waste that needs to be eliminated.

The results of the practice envisages construction and demolition waste management, municipal landscape, air quality improvements (less dust associated to construction), health and safety. Furthermore, smaller amounts of natural resources will be consumed, and the stakeholders will share solutions and will collaborate more effectively.

The main material flows considered were compost, recycled aggregates and the recovered fuels, in concordance with the main priority areas identified in the working program:

  1. Production of compost
  2. Production of recycled aggregates
  3. Production of recovered fuels

The educational program aim to reduce the materials entering the system using a collaborative approach, being in concordance with metabolism models:

  • Recovery and reuse aggregates;
  • Produce compost and use it in the processes;
  • Produce and recover fuels, that will be later used in the processes;
  • Minimizing energy consumption;

The practices envisage the reuse of the aggregates and organic materials and after treatment or processing. The action could generate new jobs, improve products life cycle costing and generate a smaller footprint.

The practice enhance the circularity of materials, trying to reduce the material quantities used in processes, resale or reuse material, produce various fuels or compost from waste.

The practice enhance dematerialization of various materials that are commonly used in construction area (by reusing them in the processes), produce compost and fuels from waste.

The Recycling Competence Centre is also planning to establish a foundation that would develop technical standards and proceed into waste products certification.

The certification will increase the visibility and confidence in use of this material instead of natural aggregates and it is expected to boost the image of recycled CDW while raising awareness about the quality of the recycled materials among the relevant actors in the construction and retail sector (of materials).



The Recycling Competence Center will develop its own certification scheme for recycled aggregates which will set the necessary quality requirements for recycled CDW according to international standards.

The development of one single certification scheme, within the CDW recycling sector for recycled products, will enable a uniform approach to secondary materials and harmonize the market environment for accepting such materials for use, compared with natural materials for construction purposes.

Engaged participatory processes

The initiative was based on the close cooperation between market practice and applied research from universities, able to bring about ready to use solutions as a “package” to interested parties, such as public authorities responsible for waste management operations, private waste management companies, recycling companies, building material companies and construction companies.

The Recycling Competence Center has been very successful in organizing and implementing training programs, concerning principles and practice of efficient waste management.

The training programs consist of different modules targeting each step of the waste management chain (on-site separation, collection, transfer, sorting, recycling, etc.) and different waste streams. The total length of the training programs 8 months, with a separate training module (two days) taking place each month.

There was a dedicated training module for the efficient use of CDW, while several of the other modules can be linked to efficient CDW management, such as management of hazardous waste, EPR systems, etc.

Overall, about 650 persons have participated in the first 2 training programs of the Recycling Competence Centre and over 300 persons are expected to have participated by the end of the current – third – training program.

All the engagement processes described before were treated, from consultation of all stakeholders, participation of stakeholders to a pilot project and co-construction of teams that will work together in recovering and using construction wastes as row materials.

The educational program made stakeholders more aware of the markets advantages and cleared what their role will be in the market.


Sustainability and replicability


The project has a long term functionality, the practices used in this project might be easily replicated by other entities.


The project has been very successful across the CDW management sector in Estonia. It has a good replicability potential that could enable other small-medium sized Member States or regions to learn from this case study, and ultimately apply similar concepts in their own territorial context.

Success Factors

The most significant factor of success was the close cooperation between CDW management companies (as well as other companies relevant to the sector, e.g. construction) and the research institutes.
• High involvement and interest of private CDW management and recycling companies.
• Good project management and administrative capacity skills.
• Extensive networking and dissemination of project activities and results
• Estonia is one of the very few Member States in EU-28 that have included a more ambitious target in their National Waste Management Plan than that of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC).

As of 2013, Estonia reached 91% recovery rate of CDW (which is mainly used for backfilling), while the target set by the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) is 70%.


Waste, Resources, Innovation.

Key Challenges

  • Estonia still faces a problem with acquiring high quality recycling and the production of recycled CDW that can be effectively used back into construction activities. It is difficult to identify the % of reuse in the recovery rate.
  • There is a considerable lack of trust in recycled materials, which are perceived as of lower quality by builders and developers, and proof is needed that recycled materials have equal technical standards to virgin materials.


The information presented above was taken from public sources, and assessed by UrbanWINS experts according to the project requirements, field research, deductions and analytical process. Key assumptions and projections may deviate from the opinions presented by author, this may typically be the result of differing time horizons, methodologies, contexts or other factors.

We do not assume any rights or guarantees, the sources of all data can be found in the „References” section, in the document. At the time of publishing, we did not received a point of view from the owners/beneficiaries of the practice (although have been requested an official position to the authors, via e-mail), and it can be withdrawn simply by email notification.

Any investor must particularly ensure the suitability of an investment as regards his/her financial and fiscal situation and investment objectives.

For more information, please check the deliverable, or contact the implementing body.

Click on the green icon on the left side of the page to print and download this Best Practice as PDF.

Share This