'Waste' of valuable timber decried

Last updated 05:00 19/04/2011
Barry Smith
VALUE IN RUBBLE: Barry Smith, of Loburn Furniture, says he can make good use of native timber being recovered from central Christchurch and is worried much of it is being sent to the dump.

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A fortune in native timber in central Christchurch buildings is being dumped when it could be recycled, a Canterbury furniture-maker says.

The Press understands Civil Defence has forbidden demolition companies from salvaging any timber when bringing down buildings, instead requiring all material to be taken to the Burwood landfill.

Loburn Furniture owner Barry Smith, who makes furniture out of recycled rimu, said crushing valuable timber that could be reused was "criminal".

He had tried to get timber through demolition companies working in the central city but had been told the Civil Defence order meant no timber was to be salvaged.

"You've got these huge beams with diggers smashing them up," he said. "It's a total waste."

The beams could be easily set aside, reducing the tonnes of waste filling the landfill, as well as making some money for Civil Defence or the building owners, Smith said.

"There is a market for it and it is much better to recycle than dump it," he said.

Civil Defence did not respond to requests for comment yesterday, but EcoCentral general manager Robert Gerrie, who manages the Burwood landfill, said 85 per cent of the 3.5 million tonnes of the expected waste from the central city would eventually be recycled.

He said it was expected to take up to eight months before all the waste had been collected and up to six years before recycling was completed.

Most of the timber arriving at the landfill had already been broken into small pieces, and careful salvaging would draw out the inner-city recovery, he said.

"There is so much to come down that if you take the time to salvage, it will end up taking two to three years."

One demolition source said it would take no extra time to salvage wood, reducing demolition costs for Civil Defence and easing the landfill burden.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of metres of native timber being wasted because of some bureaucratic crap," he said.

EcoCentral, which is owned by the Christchurch City Council's investment arm, charges $90 a tonne to dispose of Civil Defence waste at the landfill.

The flow of waste is expected to reach 10,000 tonnes a day, meaning a revenue stream of $900,000 a day for the company.

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