Unlike other end use products, mortars – like most construction products ‑ are intermediate products with no direct use to the consumer, as opposed to end-user (consumer) products.
Our products are part of the buildings consumers work and live in. The building is the product to consider and comparable to e.g. a computer, where the life cycle performance depends very much upon the performance and durability of its components.
As with a computer it would make little sense to look at the “components” of a building “on the shelf”, i.e. prior to their installation, while ignoring their function, utilization and exposure to other influences as part of the end user-product.
Mortar is the general term embracing masonry mortars, adhesive mortars (used e. g. for tiles and ETICS), renders & plasters, fillers, floor screeds, repair mortars (e.g. used for concrete repair), etc. and related products.
In typical residential buildings mortars can virtually be found everywhere and with good reason: each and every mortar product in a building has a specific role and function and contributes to the overall performance.
Subsequently are also to be found virtually everywhere at the end of service life of a common residential building, ready to be dismantled and demolished.
In the waste management hierarchy prevention is at the very top. The factories producing mortar are close to zero in waste production, partly because the manufacturers have to buy the resources and can’t afford to waste them.
In addition, downstream our industry contributes to waste prevention by delivering products in the required quantities with the least packaging possible or even no packaging at all in the case of many of the bulk products.
But the main contribution of our products to sustainability and circularity is their impact on the durability and hence the service life of the construction works or the parts there off for which they are used – either for new built or renovation.
The longer a building withstands climate and use(r) impacts, the more often it can be renovated and retrofitted, the more demolition waste is prevented. To aid in longevity and durability the long-term and durable bond and adhesion performance of our products is a key characteristic – a well appreciated matter during service life but a possible challenge at the end of service life.
Mechanical performances, durability and other physical attributes have determined the development of industrial mortars in the past. In recent years, however, the health and environment related performance and perception of our products has become increasingly important and is now an integral part of product design.
Environmental and health performance in this context is to be understood as the impact of our products in contact with and onto the surrounding environment during application and throughout their service life.
Constant awareness of health and environmental issues has a major impact on the selection of raw materials. With this awareness and knowledge, being part of the circular economy value chain is possible but a challenge both for suppliers and as well as our industry when it comes to replacing virgin raw materials with secondary ones stemming e.g. from the demolition of construction works.
This challenge includes finding the right balance between technical requirements, responsibilities and liabilities. In this respect we place high hopes on the recently started project contracted by the EC for developing a C&D Waste Management Protocol.
Upstream there is a strong co-operation with our suppliers and traditionally downstream the mortar industry has very good relations with the craftsmen applying our products, i.e. with masons, plasterers, etc.
The feedback from the craftsmen, but also from architects and consumers, helps us improve existing products and assists in the development of new products. It is obvious that being part of the circular economy requires extending our business relationships to partners beyond the building and service life phase to learn from experience and feedback in order better contribute to the circular economy.
This dialogue is the first if not the most important step to understanding and identifying processes and challenges. The European Mortar Industry is therefore very pleased to have started this dialogue between EDA and its own organisation EMO and looks forward to future friendship and co-operation.