Can Concrete Recycling Drive Sustainable Development Amidst Road Expansion in Tripoli?

July 9, 2024

Concrete debries resulted from ongoing road expansion projects


Lately, with the commencement of road expansion projects in my neighborhood in Tripoli, Libya, I felt optimistic that this would improve the connectivity to other parts of the city with smoother traffic flow and shorter commute times. However, I also began to ponder over the disposal of construction waste and its environmental impact. This reminded me of a moment around a decade ago during a presentation of a colleague's graduation project at the Engineering faculty, where I was first introduced to the concept of concrete recycling through case studies and promising experiments. This led me to question why such an approach couldn't be expanded on a larger scale. It also inspired me to write this blog, exploring concrete's dual role as a vital construction component and a major waste source, as well as how recycling can benefit development both economically and environmentally. 

Going the extra mile in development

Balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability is a global challenge and opportunity, and Libya is no exception. The country has recently embarked on ambitious road-building and expansion projects to support infrastructure development projects and respond to its growing population and economy. 

Since then, the issue of concrete waste management has come to the forefront, especially considering the significant amount of concrete material removed and disposed; questions arise -  instead of simply tossing this valuable material into the sea, why not consider  a more sustainable and innovative solution– concrete recycling. 

Through the innovative and sustainable practice of concrete recycling, we can go the extra mile in development, beyond the infrastructure expansion and development, we can work also towards closing the loop on material use, extending the lifespan of such resources. 

Closing the Loop - Transforming Waste into Value   

Knowledge and awareness can, of course, preserve the course and turn the tide by transforming what was once considered waste into an asset. Many countries have enjoyed economic and environmental benefits from concrete recycling. Singapore, for example, connected its city center with the north via the Central Expressway, reusing crushed demolished concrete from old structures. The Olympic Park of London was constructed for the 2012 Summer Olympics using recycled concrete in various structures and pathways, and the list goes on. 

Isn't it time to revisit the treasure trove of knowledge overlooked in the drawers and shelves of Libyan universities and institutions? By exploring these resources and embracing a commitment to sustainable environmental practices, we can uncover innovative approaches and solutions that have the potential to enhance sustainability and promote future development in Libya.