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Guide to plastic-free construction
Analysis of hazards and risks over the entire life cycle of building products

It is impossible to imagine the building industry without plastics, but the long-term effects on humans and the environment have not yet been adequately researched. In this project, indicators for the relevance of plastics for different purposes in all life cycle phases are to be developed. In this way, a transparent evaluation is to be presented as a basis for decision-making for planners and purchasers.

Building product managementCircular economy

"Giving priority to the bad prognosis over the good is acting responsibly with regard to future generations." This is how Hans Jonas defined the principle of precaution (Jonas, 2014).

The massive use of plastics (368 million tonnes worldwide in 2019) has led to one of the biggest global problems, roughly equivalent to climate change (Fraunhofer Institute Umsicht, 2018). Accordingly, plastics are now found not only in all environmental compartments, but also in lymph nodes of brown hares (Romana Hornek-Gausterer, 2021) or in the placenta of human babies (Antonio Ragusa, 2021). Once produced, plastics can no longer be completely removed. Even after burning in waste incineration plants, some remains as microplastics in the slag (Han Yang, 2021).

The release of plastics on construction sites is the sixth largest input pathway of microplastics into the environment (FraunhoferInstitut Umsicht, 2018). The development of indicators for building products that reflect the real hazards and risks of plastics throughout their life cycle based on current scientific data is the order of the day, not least because of the precautionary principle. Applied to building products, similar to a life cycle assessment, such indicators can effectively promote sustainable building. In a simple publicly accessible database, building products can be compared and thus promote public awareness of the problem and support architects, planners, builders and decision-makers in putting sustainable building into practice.

Project team

Munich University of Applied Sciences, Department of Building Climatology (Projekt management)
Prof. Natalie Eßig
M. Eng. Franziska Pichlmeier

IBO - Österreichisches Institut für Bauen und Ökologie GmbH

baubook GmbH

Research period

March 2023 – August 2025

Funding Institutions

This project was funded by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Building with funds from the Zukunft Bau research promotion programme.

Zukunft Bau
Bundesministerium für Wohnen, Stadtentwicklung und Bauwesen
Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung


Raw material, pollutant or recyclable material
© Enzberg
© Hochschule München