Drive around most New Zealand neighbourhoods and you'll find skips loaded with construction waste destined for the dump. But there are signs of change. The New Zealand Green Building Council, Auckland Council, Beacon Pathways and Unitec Institute of Technology are all leading initiatives to drive waste minimisation, reuse, recovery and recycling in the construction sector.
Unitec is holding a ‘Zero Waste House: Construction Challenge’ for students completing a Certificate in Applied Building Technology Carpentry this year. As part of their programme teams of sixteen students build a three-bedroom house on campus. Currently all waste from building these houses goes to landfill but during this challenge students will compete to reduce, sort, recover and recycle as much of this waste as possible.
Waste minimisation, recycling and resource recovery is being integrated into the course content and new facilities for timber, plasterboard, plastic packaging, metal, and cardboard recovery and recycling are being introduced. Waste generated by each team will be weighed daily over the 32 weeks of the course. At the end of the challenge, the team with the least waste going to landfill will be announced the winners and prizes awarded.
Over 70% of all material used in the building industry is recyclable or reusable, so to help prevent such a significant amount of waste ending up in landfill, this initiative encourages students to recycle and think laterally about reducing waste. The goal being to inspire a generation of builders to minimize, recover and recycle waste and replicate this project in the industry.
The Council is targeting a 30% reduction in waste to landfill by 2027 and zero waste by 2040 with a specific focus on construction waste which makes up 50% of all waste generated. Unitec has adopted these targets, creating this challenge and also hosting the Building Today – Saving Tomorrow Conference being held from 15 to 17 July 2015, at the Heritage Hotel in Auckland City as part of our contribution towards supporting the NZ construction industry’s efforts to reduce waste. The conference will allow construction practitioners, academics, government leaders, students and apprentices to share their experiences and build the body of knowledge around construction waste minimisation in New Zealand.
Auckland Council is generously supporting both of these projects with Waste Minimisation Innovation Funding.
Register now for the Building Today – Saving Tomorrow Conference to find out more about this project.
My name is Carolyn Cox, I'm the founder of Green Businesss HQ.
I help businesses develop sustainability strategies, action plans and provide sustainability advice for businesses, industry sectors, education providers, and communities.