Innovation

French firm pilots scheme to rebuild Ukraine with rubble of bombed buildings

French Ukraine rebuild
A suburb of Kyiv, Hostomel has an estimated 50,000 tons of rubble after it was bombed at the beginning of Russia’s invasion in February 2022 (Kyivcity.gov.ua/Oleksii Samsonov/CC BY 4.0)

A French company specialising in recycling rubble for building materials has teamed up with the Ukrainian military and Ukrainian organisations to build new apartment blocks from the remains of bombed ones.

Funded initially by France, they aim to build some 450 new apartments with materials recovered from destroyed buildings in the town of Hostomel by 2024. A suburb of Kyiv, Hostomel was bombarded at the beginning of Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

The company, Neo-Eco, says its techniques can recycle up to 98% of the debris in Hostomel. Among other things, it can turn concrete and bricks into aggregate, wooden doors into particle board, and plaster into plasterboard.

With 12 university partnerships and 23 research partners, Neo-Eco says it has developed more than 500 individual product types made from demolished structures over more than a decade.

€30m target

In September 2022, it signed a memorandum with the Kyiv Regional Military Administration to carry out the pilot scheme.

The French government is funding the initial phase, but additional donors are necessary for a targeted €30m.

Also involved in the pilot is Ukraine Resilience, a charity promoting reconstruction in the country using circular economy techniques.

Ukrainian demolition firm Demontaznik and Ukrainian developer Nhood Ukraine are also participating.

Cities of rubble

Hostomel has about 50,000 tons of rubble caused by the Russian bombardment, Bart Gruyaert, the vice-president of Neo-Eco, told Fast Company last month.

If the pilot works, the approach could be applied to more extensively-destroyed cities such as Kharkiv. Gruyaert estimates the city has up to 60 million tons.

Around the country, the war has produced some 1.4 billion tons of rubble, he told the publication.

“If they don’t reuse, they will dump it in fields,” he said.

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