Builders back plan to cut waste

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 26/02/2014
Envirowaste
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

REDUCING WASTE: An Envirowaste building solution bin (a modified skip) which is being used as part of the Nelson Environment Centre’s initiative to keep cardboard out of landfills.

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Some 20 per cent of Nelson and Tasman's cardboard wastage will be diverted from landfills with the help of a new initiative run by the Nelson Environment Centre.

The centre is contracted to the Nelson City and Tasman District councils. Yesterday it launched a pilot programme funded by both councils which aims to get local builders and waste companies to put their used cardboard into recycling bins instead of general waste skips.

Gibbons Construction's site on Halifax St hosted the occasion, showing off a compact green skip specially designed to hold removable bags for cardboard. Site manager Rewai Coe said his workers got used to the change in their routine quickly.

"The first couple of days it was just the convenience of dumping it in the big [general waste] skip . . . but you just keep pushing, and now it's not an issue."

Gibbons health and safety manager Aaron Kennaway added that many young builders were concerned about the environmental impact of their work. Taps, appliances and most fittings that go into a new building come packaged in cardboard.

NEC programme manager Karen Driver said the aim was to ensure all builders in the region automatically planned for a cardboard recycling facility on all their sites, and that the workers expect them to be provided.

"We realise this won't happen overnight but we want to work with the industry to support them to achieve this."

She said the NEC would be recording the tonnage of cardboard, other recyclables and waste coming off each building site so that they could identify how much cardboard can be recycled from residential and commercial sites. They would also collect data from the sites on how builders perceived the scheme, how easy it was to use, and any issues that arose.

Ms Driver said there had been an extraordinary response from building companies, saying so many had indicated an interest in the pilot that not all could be signed up.

"An added bonus is that the builders are keen to recycle more than cardboard and so are discussing the details of this with the service providers," she said.

The builders involved are Bruce Design & Build, Gibbons Construction, and Jennian Homes. Can Plan has started using its own "Commbo" wheelie bin for commercial combined recycling, and EnviroWaste is also on board.

Once the trial is complete, the Nelson Environment Centre will present and discuss the results with the rest of the industry to encourage them to make similar changes.

TDC utilities network engineer David Stephenson said both councils produced much more paper and cardboard waste than the rest of the country. A survey conducted in 2012 showed the material made up 17 per cent of landfill waste, compared with 7 per cent in other regions.

Mr Stephenson said the councils decided to investigate options for diverting paper and cardboard from building sites because there were already options for recycling of this material in the Nelson and Tasman regions, saying the project was about making it easier for people to produce less waste.

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"Construction sites produce reasonably significant waste volumes over a short period of time and give good opportunity to trial systems that can be rolled out into other areas."

NCC councillor Brian McGurk said that of the total cardboard waste going into landfills from the Nelson and Tasman region, 10-20 per cent came from construction sites.

- Nelson

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