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Trade views sought on CE marking of reclaimed building materials

Posted on | By Thornton Kay
Brabant Brussels, Belgium - Many member countries of the EU wish to enforce CE marking of reclaimed building materials. Salvo has been in discussion since last year over the UK's position on this issue with the BRE who represent the UK on EU committees connected with CE marking and the Construction Products Regulations.

Salvo's view is that no reclaimed building product should be CE marked, and we have been maintaining that view successfully on behalf of the salvage trade with the EU and UK government since 1992, which has involved many letters, emails, phone calls, and meetings, including one with the then German head, and Spanish deputy, of the EU Construction Directorate. (For a hilarious romp through these Kafkaesque meanderings, see p204-206 of the Salvo Guide 2000 by T Kay, a book kindly sponsored by Solopark Plc, and now out of print.)

The latest discussion document has now been released for consultation to the trade prior to a meeting of the EU Standing Committee on Construction on 16th June where this issue will be discussed again. This document incorporates some, but not all, of the points made by Salvo. In our view it is vital for the trade that CE marking applicable to new construction products should only be required on new construction products and not on reclaimed building materials and architectural salvage.

<b>Here is the EU discussion document:</b>

<blockquote>Exchange of views on re-used products under the CPR

1. Introduction

The Commission was contacted by Denmark with a question concerning the treatment of re-used bricks in relation to the CPR.

The Commission consulted Member States and stakeholders on their views and possible experiences concerning this practical implementation issue at the 6th SCC CPR 13-14 February 2014. It was agreed that the document CPR 06/15/1 should be revised and recirculated in light of the comments received.

This document is based on the document CPR 06/15/1, on contributions prepared by the UK and tries to better address the key issues raised by Member States and other stakeholders.

The conclusions included in this document are based on the information available to the Commission at present and can only be applicable to the case of re-used products described under point 2. A more detailed analysis based on information concerning different products re-used, their uses, seize of the sector, etc. could lead to a revision of the conclusions therein.

2. Background

The case presented by Denmark concerned bricks which the economic operator takes from an old building and sells to a contractor in order for them to be incorporated in a construction work. The economic operator submits the bricks to a cleaning process to remove the old mortar or paint ('preparation') which does not imply a manufacturing process and the performance of the brick remains unchanged.

The reused construction product is often very old, was placed on the market before the CPD or CPR, when CE marking was not yet in place. In addition, the economic operator who prepares the bricks for re-use is not a manufacturer himself and the factory production control within the meaning of the CPR might not be in place.

Denmark asked if the CPR applies to these products, including obligations concerning CE mark and DoP, if "reuse" is the correct term, how the definition "placing on the market" in the CPR should be understood regarding reused construction products and whether Member States may require reused products to be assessed on the basis of Eurocodes or hENs.

3. Terminology

The CPR is silent with regard to reuse and recycling. The terminology set out in the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC (WFD) is pertinent in this case. According to the WFD, the situation mentioned by Denmark correspond to the concept of "re-use" and "preparing for re-use" mentioned defined under Article 3.13 and 3. of the WFD. Re-use is different from "recycling", as the latter implies a reprocessing of products (likely to affect their performance and product type) in order to produce a new product.

4. Applicability of the CPR concerning reused construction products

Re-used products are not excluded from the scope of application of the CPR. As soon as a product falls under the CPR definition of construction product (Article 2(1) of the CPR), the CPR conditions for placing or making available on the market of construction products apply. Most relevant CPR provisions for this case are Article 4(1) (the manufacturer shall draw up a DoP when a construction product, which is covered by a hEN or conforms to a ETA issued for it, is placed on the market), Article 5 (derogations from drawing up a DoP), Article 14 (obligations to distributors) and Article 15 (cases in which obligations of manufacturers apply to importers and distributors).

However, we can differentiate here two possible situations:

1. Re-used products which were placed on the market after the applicability date of the CPR and the Construction Products Directive (CPD). In these cases, the CPR provisions apply in full, and economic operators who prepare the bricks for re-use should fulfill their obligations under Article 14 of the CPR (under the assumption that the performance of the products remains the same as described in the DoP or CE mark affixed in accordance to the CPR/CPD).
2. Re-used products which were already placed on the market legally before the applicability date of the CPR and of the Construction Products Directive. In the case described under point 2 only some of the CPR obligations to distributors (Article 14 of the CPR) are relevant for this type of re-used products and can be legally required within the limits of the information available, because the actual information on the products might be very difficult to obtain in practice. The CPR obligations concerning DoP and CE mark would not be relevant in such a case.

On the contrary, in such cases the ignorance of the real performance of these re-used products will not discharge users of compliance with the requirements deriving from national building legislation. For this reason, the economic operators who sell re-used bricks would need to inform their customers of the probable performance and safety information (Article 14(2) of the CPR) allowing the users to use the re-used bricks safely. This should not discharge neither the economic operators selling such bricks from their obligation to check the characteristics of the products and provide information on the performance of the bricks if requested or required to do so.

5. Placing on the market

In order to consider that a product is "placed on the market" under the CPR, two essential elements need to be present and occur after 1st July 2013: an economic transaction and a "new" product.

Concerning the first element, there is an economic transaction when an economic actor sells the product, as described under Article 2(16) of the CPR.

The second aspect concerns the cases when the performance and identification of the product as well as its intended use has changed substantially after its first placing on the market and before selling it for re-use. The case raised by Denmark is not concerning a substantial change of the re-used products and therefore this aspect would not be relevant.

Cases where the performance of the product has been changed during its life or as a consequence of the salvage process undertaken by the economic operator should be assessed on a case by case basis in order to identify how the CPR would be applicable to them and which options exist to demonstrate the performance of the given re-used product.

6. Can a Member State require that re-used construction products are assessed on the basis of the Eurocodes or hENs?

In case the assessment of re-used construction products becomes necessary due to the intended use or a substantial change in their performance, the use of applicable hENs for such assessment is possible providing it is not legally excluded or technically unfeasible.

7. Tentative conclusion and actions
- Only some CPR obligations concerning distributors apply to re-used construction products described under point 2 which were first placed on the market before the CPD and the performance of which remains unchanged.
- Re-used construction products should be accompanied by information on their performance and safety commensurate to the available information, to allow their users to know if they are in compliance with the applicable national building rules.
- A frequently asked question could be included on the CPR website concerning re-used products described under point 2.
- Consideration should be given to the treatment of re-used products when assessing the possible revision of the CPR and when developing or reviewing hENs.</b></blockquote>

<b>To which Salvo has responded:</b>

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As stated in (1) there is no evidence that harmonized product standards were intended to cover reused products and so the second option seems the more appropriate one.
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could this have a sentence added
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As stated in (1) there is no evidence that harmonized product standards were intended to cover reused products and so the second option seems the more appropriate one. On the good authority of a stakeholder representing the views of UK and European construction salvage sector it appears that this sector was never consulted or included on any committee of the CPD or CPR, and that no relevant CEN committee included the reuse of reclaimed products during its eol considerations. This stakeholder believes the EU would be acting unconstitutionally and outside its mandate to enforce a rule, which would constrict the free market of goods and contravene the EU's environmental regulations, for the benefit of new manufacturers and to the detriment of the principle salvage sector stakeholders, on which the principle salvage sector stakeholders were never consulted.
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In the case of products originally placed on the market under the CPD or CPR and which are unchanged it is could be expected that data in accordance with the relevant harmonized standard is available and a DoP provided.
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please change to
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In the case of products originally placed on the market under the CPD or CPR and which are unchanged it may be that data in accordance with the relevant harmonized standard is available and a DoP provided. But this would not normally be the case, and a simple lack of traceability of information about a reclaimed product should not end with that reusable product's consignment to landfill.
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For example, with re-used bricks, the frost resistance and salt content may be important. In this situation re-used bricks from old buildings could only be reused in exposed situations where there is some certainty as to their frost resistance and salt content.
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please change to
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For example, with reclaimed bricks, the frost resistance and salt content may be important. In this situation reclaimed bricks from old buildings could only be reused in exposed situations where there is some certainty as to their frost resistance and salt content.
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The Construction Products Regulations, which were preceded in 2013 by the Construction Products Directive which became law in 1989, are about harmonising standards of construction products throughout Europe so that a manufacturer can freely sell a standardised products throughout the EU common market. Once a European standard, known as a CEN, has been agreed for a new building product the CPR requires that any non-conforming product must, by law, be removed from the market.

So, in theory, once a CEN is agreed on new bricks, all reclaimed bricks would be outlawed, and this would contravene Europe's environmental objectives of conserving resources and reducing carbon emissions. Throughout the history of the CPD, Salvo has successfully argued with the UK government that the CPD should not apply to reclaimed building materials. In 2003, a telephone discussion with the John Prescott's ODPM resulted in a verbal agreement for the UK to derogate from the CPD with respect to reclaimed building materials. I asked, could I have that in writing? No, was the answer, it is a verbal agreement.

Now it seems that the EU has caught up with reclaimed building materials, and is reluctantly having to deal with the issue.

Please add public comments to Disqus, or send your comments to thornton2@salvoweb dot com as soon as possible.

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Story Type: News