Why is it important for the construction sector to reduce waste?
The construction sector accounts for the largest portion of all the waste we create – up to about 50%. Construction and demolition generate more than 3.6 million tonnes of waste in Aotearoa New Zealand every year. That's about the same weight as 180 Auckland Sky Towers. This represents literally a waste of resources and subsequently money.
A lot of waste in the sector is the result of over-ordering supplies, which results in excess offcuts being thrown away. Constructing buildings and components on-site also causes unnecessary waste. If, on the other hand, materials are assembled off-site in a factory, left overs can be reused and recycled. There’s also less packaging thrown away when components are delivered assembly-ready.
Off-site construction can reduce time by 30%, save material costs by 20% and even reduce site accident rates.
What about carbon emissions?
As well as creating the largest amount of waste, the construction industry contributes around 20% of our carbon emissions. A key way to reduce that is to ensure the materials in construction can remain in use for as long as possible by designing buildings for flexible use and to enable the reuse of materials at the end of a building’s life. This prevents the need for new materials, and extraction and production of those, which involves emitting more carbon.
How is the sector doing so far in reducing waste and carbon?
There is a lot of intention and recognition that practices need to change. We’re starting to see some sporadic action but it’s not coordinated or across the whole industry. There are indications that changes are afoot, but lack of clarity on what those changes are for the industry. There are individual innovations happening but not a coordinated approach.
What are the main barriers to progress?
The main barriers are the demand for the built environment – the pressure to produce homes and houses as quickly as possible – and a lack of incentives and disincentives for reduction in waste and carbon. But very quickly we will see those incentives and disincentives changing in terms of increased cost of waste disposal, increased action from government and, of course, increasingly there will be pressure from customers to tackle these issues.
What are the opportunities?
The opportunities are that you will be saving costs in the long run and you will be front footing impending changes to the industry. You will also be in a better position to win contracts that are increasingly asking for low carbon and low waste solutions.
How can the Building out Waste and Carbon Masterclass help with this?
The Masterclass will provide the latest information on best practice to build out waste and carbon – from design and procurement to on-site and off-site practices and end of life. It will also provide an opportunity to connect with key stakeholders across the industry to coordinate action. There will also be the chance to have your work included in an ‘activities map’ we’re creating. There will be interactive innovation sessions around how to manage plastics and materials passports. Plus, you can share your views on the key opportunities and challenges to move to a low carbon circular economy.
What will attendees come away with?
They will come away with the latest knowledge and information in a very practical sense that they can implement in their business. They will make excellent connections to help their business develop. And they will be able to contribute to the creation of resources and an activity map of action across Aotearoa New Zealand. A lot of people and businesses tend to work in siloes, so it’s a valuable chance to come together and connect with others, to share ideas and opportunities.
Find out more and purchase tickets to the Building out Waste and Carbon Masterclass, on 7 October.