IBSTT – Trenchless technologies are vital in the transition to a circular economy

Our sector urgently needs to change to a circular economy production model. To do so, we must make a qualitative leap in our approach to projects, an approach which must of force envisage the entire life of the infrastructure from the outset, whilst monitoring the benefits and disadvantages it brings to society at all times. Society now demands that our activity be aligned with the principles of sustainability and environmental respect, but also with the democratisation of investments and efficiency in investment. The construction of an infrastructure is no longer seen as an imperative necessity for the creation of wealth and improvement in living standards that justifies any associated collateral damage. Therefore, we must act swiftly in order to continue being perceived by society as a sector absolutely necessary for its development. Solutions such as trenchless technologies, born from within the sector, will enable this to be achieved.

The investment deficit and ageing of infrastructures requires intelligent economic intervention because resources are limited. Trenchless technologies ensure the sustainability of services, and are aligned with the challenges of Climate Change, the European Green Deal, and the Circular Economy, in terms of achieving waste reduction and efficient resource use. These technologies are also in line with Innovative Public Procurement and Contracting, which has undergone a considerable shift from a purely cost focused approach to a full lifecycle approach, including consideration of environmental and social costs.

This new scenario of eco-friendly, socially responsible, sustainable and innovative public procurement, within the framework of the social, green, circular and low-carbon economy, paves the way for trenchless technologies to become a strategic pillar. Current procurement legislation supports innovation and sustainability as drivers of a green, digital economy. The new
provisions of the Directive will give rise to the development of more innovative, and socially and environmentally friendly public procurement. Trenchless technologies will play a central role, given that they are recognised by the UN in Agenda 21 chapter 34 as green, environmentally sound and sustainable technologies.

Trenchless technologies are agile, intelligent, efficient and sustainable solutions capable of responding to the new reality, a
reality characterised by increasingly scarce resources which, at the same time, are the subject of greater demand.

The transition to a circular economy requires profound changes not only in technologies, but in all value chains. New ways of converting waste into assets are needed and trenchless technologies play a key role in this because of the economic advantages and the benefits of implementing these technologies.

A strategy is needed to ensure future levels of service. A large part of existing networks in Spain were installed between the 1960s and 1980s and have reached or are reaching the end of their service life. Investments in water networks are not being prioritised and operators generally do not have specific funds for network renewal.

The consequences of failing to renew networks and implement corrective maintenance strategies can be very severe in terms of:
• Level of service
• Public health
• Economic costs
• Environmental impact
• Water scarcity
• Social movements

Published in: Nº83 FuturENVIRO September-Octçober 2021