Transformation Areas

This story reflects success in the highlighted areas.

One person’s trash

Junk Run is a small business making a big impact on ‘waste’. The company, which collects construction and office- and house-moving leftovers sorts, recycles and repurposes other people’s ‘trash’, saving 70 per cent from landfill.

The Auckland-based, hands-on rubbish removal service has been running for 10 years in Auckland and started out as a solution to all the useful ‘waste’ that was being emptied into landfills. The company slogan attests to this: ‘Junk Runners can’t bear waste’.

One person’s ‘trash’ can be another person’s treasure. Junk Run spends a lot of time trying to find new homes for sofas, furnishings , sports equipment, old pianos, kids bikes, and old motorbike and car parts that they pick up, not to mention all the timber, clean plaster board and other construction waste.

Because Junk Run isn’t in the business of selling, it doesn’t have a yard or the capacity to deal with all the things it picks up daily.

“There is no community market for office chairs and desks and particians , for example, even though they might be fantastic and someone paid a fortune for them not so long ago,” says Managing Director Fionna Gotts. These products end up being donated by Junk Run to anyone who will take them for reuse, for example office chairs go to a husband and wife team in West Auckland who refurbish and resell them.

According to Fionna, access to recycled ‘waste’ could be a major business opportunity. “It’s a wasted resource. One of the big nightmares for us are soft furnishings, like sofas and big chairs. Nobody wants them.”

Junk Run’s focus on community and passing products on to those who are in desperate need, has led to the formation of a variety of strategic alliances with charities including Habitat for Humanity, Hospice, various church and community groups, the SPCA and the City Mission. It also has links with community programmes that can reuse ‘junk’ like glass, wood, carpet and just about anything.

“We’re constantly sourcing and inventing new ways to redirect waste, for want of a better term, from landfill. We have a Junk Run wish list, whereby any of the community groups we deal with can put in requests,” she says. The commitment of Junk Run means that 70 per cent of what it picks up is rehoused rather than taken to landfill.

Fionna points out that Auckland Council is taking some good steps to implement improved waste systems and she hopes the Council will encourage product stewardship and develop plans for redistribution of useful ‘waste’, for example, old televisions which have cropped up a lot since the switch to digital television in 2013. “That would really make an enormous difference because then we would be able to find better and easier ways of disposing of some of the stuff that is impossible to find a home for.”

The team of nine has also veered into education, working with builders, project managers and architects, challenging them to think about their waste, how they can separate it on site and how Junk Run can help.

Junk Run is also looking at developing a sustainability rebate programme to reward enterprises who do separate their waste properly so that it can find a second purpose.

Junk Run is a great example of a company trying to extend the lifecycle of products and contribute to a more Circular Economy (one in which maximum value is derived from resources and ‘waste’ is recycled and reused).

The SBN is working with members to accelerate the circular economy in New Zealand, raising the profile of circular business opportunities, sharing knowledge and actively leading strategic projects that will shift current ‘linear’ (take-make-waste) practices to more ‘circular’ ones. A key project currently underway is to embed Circular Economy principles into the office refurbishment industry. If you are interested in finding out more, contact James on james@sustainable.org.nz.