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Soil banks: making a valuable resource circular

Soil banks are a designated site or area where excavated materials such as soil, rock, sand and gravel are temporarily stored and quality controlled. Our colleagues Beatriz Ortiz de la Torre and Germán Monge talked about them during their presentation “Soil banks: towards the circularity of a valuable resource” at Soiluzioak, the Euskadi Soil Protection Congress promoted by IHOBE and SPRILUR. Read on to find out more:

It is estimated that in the Basque Country today, during a construction process that includes excavation, around 75% of the total excavated material has to be handled because it cannot be reused. In 2018, 10 million tonnes of this waste was generated, of which only 20% was managed for reuse.

These excavated soils are considered one of the priority waste streams included in the Euskadi 2030 Waste Prevention and Management Plan (PPG) and it has been concluded that one of the key actions to be taken in order to be able to solve its excessive generation and disposal in landfills is: (A.C.6) – Creation of a public-private facility for intermediate storage and quality control of aggregates, soils and other secondary raw materials, which will allow, among other things, a better control of the materials destined for reuse.

And this is not an unfamiliar problem for the Euskadi 2030 Soil Protection Strategy (EPS), which mentions the following:

“The concept of the circular economy takes on a new meaning from the perspective of soil protection, which is embodied in the document of initial approval of the “Revision of the Spatial Planning Guidelines of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country” (February 2018): ‘Consequently, it is proposed to move towards the objective of zero net soil degradation through the reuse and recycling of the territory and the promotion of the circular economy through the reuse of excavated land as a result of the needs of construction projects”.

In short, the reuse of excavated soil has become one of the objectives to be achieved in the strategic documents of Euskadi, and its reuse is extremely limited due to the requirements of construction/engineering projects, in which the operating time is limited, there are often differences in excavated volumes, making the management of surpluses inevitable, and the difference in location between works conditions makes efficient transport impossible.

It was therefore decided to propose a solution within the PPG to provide facilities for the temporary storage and quality control of excavated soil: Soil Banks. This type of temporary infrastructure is considered a fundamental component in the management of materials during construction projects. Its correct use contributes to the efficiency, economy and sustainability of such projects by making best use of available resources and complying with environmental legislation.

Click here to read more about sustainable soil management.

October 27, 2023

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Beatriz Ortiz de la Torre, consultant and specialist in sustainable soil management, and Germán Monge, Director of the business line, during the presentation "Soil banks: making a valuable resource circular" at Soiluzioak.