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House building study reveals massive waste issue

House building study reveals massive waste issue

An eye opening study in Tauranga has revealed that up to six tonnes of waste is generated during the building of an average three-bedroom home. The findings have raised concern as to the amount of waste created by the construction industry as Tauranga experiences increased growth in development.

Commissioned by the Tauranga City Council and Environment Bay of Plenty and conducted by Sustainable Business Network member Environmental Education for Resource Sustainability Trust (EERST), the year long study not only monitored the volume of waste discarded from residential building sites but also looked into ways to divert it from landfill.

EERST cleaner production manager Paula Inglis was keen to identify exactly what was being thrown away and why. "We know that up to 85 per cent of the contents of skips on building sites can be reduced, re-used or recycled", she says. Spin-offs have already flowed from the study. Builders, sub-contractors, architects and developers are starting to provide support toward the concept of reducing waste throughout the design stage, ordering and managing materials more efficiently and separating waste on site as much as possible for ease of recovery and recycling, says Paula.

A local architect is being assisted to write waste management plans into construction specifications requiring builders to meet those requirements. In turn the builders have requested that their waste operator provide a service to the site for the recovery of recyclable materials. Consequently, a new service is being trialled by a waste company in an effort to divert materials otherwise going into landfill or cleanfill sites.

While the Councils see environmental gains as the biggest benefit, home owners will also be happy because builders will be paying less in dump charges. All levels of the industry have the opportunity to design better methods of handling, managing and disposing of waste. There is also an opportunity to establish a culture for waste recovery and recycling on building sites and within building related industries.

The study is continuing this year in an effort to continue to develop and improve systems for recovery and recycling that are simple and effective.

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