Converting construction waste to stone: this is a process that is currently being studied at the Faculty of Engineering of the University. Research will continue to be given a boost, after Malta Industrial Parks signed an agreement to help finance such research on the reconstruction of stone from construction waste.
Construction waste has become a major challenge for the construction industry due to a shortage of space for its disposal. The University is helping to find a solution, through research which aims to convert clean construction waste into stone to be reused by industry.
Speaking to TVM, Profs Spiridione Buhagiar from the Faculty of Engineering explained that the process begins by converting the waste generated from the construction industry to a fine powder. It is then mixed with a number of chemicals to be made into stone once again.
“Nine years ago we thought of this project – that we could make something of it; we began experimenting, treating waste, and from there we started making the blocks that you see here,” Prof. Buhagiar said.
Professor Buhagiar said there is a need to change the mindset from that of “use and dispose” to one of re-cycling and reusing material as part of a circular economy.
Asked about the quality of the final product, Professor Buhagiar said that since it was treated inside a laboratory, the stone could be given different properties.
“In the laboratory we finished up with material that is as good as limestone, if not better. The advantage of the laboratory is that we can work on different combinations, we can make it stronger, non porous and not soft,” Professor Buhagiar said.
This research has now found the financial support of Malta Industrial Parks, with the aim that the process will be commercialized in the near future.
The Chief Executive of the Malta Industrial Parks, Karl Azzopardi, said that research was carried out in an environmentally friendly way according to an infrastructure policy.
“Green infrastructure is not just about greenery, but as we are seeing it’s about converting waste into something else. We have a particular site – a landfill in Ħal Luqa, which allows us to reconstructed stone.”
He said that research has shown clearly that whatever you believe in can happen. Asked whether the reconstructed stone can be commercialised, he said that the recycled product was 20% more expensive than the natural stone.
“I think we some political will and incentives we can start generating a circular economy in a way that helps the market and instead throwing it away we can create opportunity, ” Karl Azzopardi said.
The University Rector, Prof. Alfred Vella, showed appreciation for the assistance of the Malta Industrial Parks for this research. He added that one of the University’s objectives was to engage in similar projects since such projects were also advantageous to the country.