25 May 2021
Construction and demolition (C&D) waste contributes at least 10,000 tonnes of plastic to Auckland landfills annually. Since construction waste is usually not sorted by material, there’s also limited data on the potential to divert materials from landfill.
A joint project by Unitec, Mitre 10 MEGA Glenfield and Naylor Love has been working to identify where and what types of plastic appear in building projects and to design out waste where possible.
Construction timber is typically delivered to building sites in packs up to 6m long and covered in a plastic wrap to protect it from weather during transportation and while stored on site. The plastic wrap goes into the general waste bin and then to landfill as there’s no reuse stream available.
With funding from Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund, Naylor Love and Mitre 10 are trialling new Timber Pack Covers, purpose-made heavy-duty tarps that can be used many times over.
It’s an idea that could transform the way timber is delivered and stored on construction sites all over the country.
Naylor Love Project Manager Annie says the covers are “an ideal solution, eliminating single use plastic while ensuring that the timber is protected from knocks and weather, both in transit and on site.”
Waste minimisation is a focus area within Mitre 10’s sustainability plan, says Sustainability Manager Julie Roberts. “We’re working on several initiatives that address problematic waste streams with trade and industry partners, both customers and suppliers. Post-consumer solutions like the Timber Pack Covers and EXPOL’s polystyrene recycling programme, alongside the work we’re doing to reduce and improve the packaging that comes into our business, are important steps on our sustainability journey. These innovations support the government’s focus on transitioning New Zealand to a circular economy.”
Parul Sood, Auckland Council General Manager for Waste Solutions says: “Waste from construction and demolition is more than double the total waste from all household collections in Auckland, so industry leadership is needed. Auckland Council is keen to provide the incubation funding and bring partners together to identify the best opportunities to reduce waste.”
Associate Professor Dr Terri-Ann Berry, Director of Environmental Solutions Research Centre at Unitec says: “our research is most useful if it can be successfully applied to achieve the best outcomes and this involves working closely with industry, industry providers and regulators. It is great to see new solutions emerging from our research insights.”