How to cut costs AND cut waste

By Natasha Fromont

Construction is one of the most wasteful activities around, but needn’t be. Simple processes and services keep waste to a minimum — and cut costs.

Construction and demolition waste is massive. Five or six tonnes of construction waste is produced for every average-sized three-bedroom home. It may make up as much as half of all waste generated in New Zealand.

Some offcuts and waste are unavoidable. But how do you keep it to a minimum?

The Building Act 2004 guides consent applications. It includes stipulations for efficient and sustainable use of materials and waste reduction. But that is the bare minimum.

Experts say we should at least be making easy wins. That means re-using and recovering timber. It means recycling cardboard, plasterboard, concrete, bricks and metals.

A lot of this is only due care and attention. Check measurements to ensure the right materials are ordered. Get them delivered on time in the right sequence. Double-check goods when they arrive.

These are all great ways to ensure you don’t end up with unwanted materials on site. There should be proper storage for everything.

Timber offcuts should be centralised so it’s easy to re-use them. Unused materials should be returned to suppliers quickly, ensuring they can’t turn into a problem.

We don’t even have to give up on stuff that’s going in the bin. Switch the skip for one from recycling specialist Green Gorilla. This firm will sort and recycle up to 75 per cent of skip contents. The costs are the same, if not cheaper, than a standard skip.

Junk Run goes one further. The company works with builders to remove materials in one piece so they can find a new home in the community. The company’s teams collect these materials from anywhere on site, sort, separate and load them — and can put a lot of it to good use elsewhere. You pay only for the volume of waste removed.

Finally, the Resene Paintwise scheme will take unused paint for re-use.

Phil Yates, from Green Gorilla, says: “The only reason people aren’t using services like ours seems to be habit. Either that or they simply aren’t aware.

“It’s so easy these days to do the right thing.”

Fionna Gotts, Junk Run CEO, adds: “With the fast turnover of house sales, we are seeing perfectly good bathrooms and kitchens thrown out.

“We want to see materials like that headed for a new home. It just takes a bit of thought.

“Even the word recycling has become a bit warped. People often say they will ‘recycle’ when they just mean finding a bin for it.”

So be a tidy Kiwi on a grand scale.

Take a bit of care over the waste from your build.

This article first appeared in One Roof (powered by NZME)