The Goods and Services Tax (GST) on products made from recycled demolition waste will soon be reduced to five per cent by the government. The move comes in a bid to promote reuse of debris generated by the construction industry. Currently, the recycled products — such as concrete blocks or bricks for masonry made from construction and demolition (C&D) waste — attracts GST of 18 per cent. According to a senior Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry official, “There is a need for maximum utilisation of recycled material in new construction activities to save scarce natural resources and to address the issue of disposal of construction and demolition waste.” A major contributor to pollution and a threat to the environment in the national capital, C&D waste generates 6,000-7,000 tonnes of debris per day.
The CPWD, the ministry’s construction wing has undertaken a drive to use the recycled waste products in architectural applications like landscaping, paving and laying roads, solar reflective terracing, sculptures, garden furniture and art works. Concrete blocks of recycled C&D waste possess adequate strength hence can be used as an alternative to bricks, CPWD Director General Prabhakar Singh said. Nearly one-third of C&D waste is constituted by solid waste in the country. The objective of solid waste management thus, cannot be achieved without managing C&D waste. Building material, debris and rubble resulting from construction, renovation, repair and demolition of any civil engineering structure are included in the C&D waste.
“We have approached the Finance Ministry to lower the GST rate on recycled products and it has been agreed on,” the official said, adding that a notification on this is expected shortly. At present, GST on traditional bricks is five per cent while concrete blocks prepared from waste material attracts 18 per cent, which make them costlier. The reduction of GST is expected to boost the demand of these products in construction industry. Use of recycled waste products in construction will solve many problems, including saving of scarce natural resources like river sand, stone and soil — besides saving on the space required for landfills. “Since natural resources are depleting fast, it is the need of the hour to reuse waste product and byproducts for sustainability,” the official said. Rubble sent to landfill sites has led to the creation of mountains of such waste. Incidents of fire and landslides have occurred at such sites, leading to accidents, some of them fatal.