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Christchurch Company Granted First Construction And Demolition Waste Ecolabel

Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ) has granted the country’s first construction and demolition (C&D) waste management ecolabel to Christchurch-based Taggart Earthmoving Limited.

The company’s CEO Paul Taggart says he’s incredibly proud to be the first construction business to receive environmental certification through the EC-59 C&D Waste Services specification, and feels the timing is perfect. “The coronavirus disruption has provided a blank canvas with real opportunity for the industry,” he says. “It’s time to start considering the environmental impact of construction and demolition waste.”

By weight, the C&D industry is one of the largest waste producers in the country, making up half of all waste going to landfill*. A Ministry for the Environment study from 2019 found that 2.9 million tonnes of C&D waste are disposed at C&D fills every year. The study shows that only 28% of waste from construction sites are recovered, despite case studies indicating a diversion rate of 70% or higher can be achieved**. ECNZ introduced the EC-59 C&D Waste Services specification last year to encourage more C&D businesses to improve their environmental performance and follow a circular economy approach.

Mr Taggart says the ecolabel is strong acknowledgement of the company’s commitment to the environment. “For the last 20 years, Taggart has been proactive in sustainability. We want to be at the forefront as environmental leaders in construction and the ecolabel takes us another step further in recycling and reusing our materials.” To get the ECNZ ecolabel, Taggart has been audited against best-practice criteria for waste management on-site, transportation, sorting and processing, recovery, reuse and disposal.

Over the years, there has been a shift in environmental awareness within the industry, Mr Taggart says. “Previously the environment was easily overlooked and overshadowed, but there has been growing awareness of making the environment a business priority. We’ve done this as part of our business model and have seen the benefits of it. Our company has achieved International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) accreditations and we now build environmental consideration into all our projects, including being involved in local river care groups.”

Environmental Choice New Zealand General Manager Francesca Lipscombe says she is pleased the country’s official ecolabel has certified its first construction licensee. “The ecolabel can be a meaningful solution for the industry as the nation looks for sustainable ways to recover from COVID-19,” she says.

“Taggart Earthmoving Limited is leading the way in making real, positive change for the C&D industry. As the nation looks at the next set of ’shovel-ready’ projects and how to reduce the environmental impact of its waste, there is great opportunity for sustainable construction and demolition waste services to be properly recognised.”

Mr Taggart says that having the ecolabel means that Taggart will be established as a business that is doing something positive for the environment. “I’d like to think that the industry will see the ecolabel as a valuable standard going forward. Our company’s environmental values have had a positive impact on our staff awareness levels and culture, and have been financially beneficial in reducing dumping costs. Accreditation has also given us a competitive advantage in tenders.”

As the country’s only Type 1 ecolabel, becoming a licensee with ECNZ will ensure credibility to businesses who provide environmentally preferable C&D services. Benefits of the C&D Waste Services specification include gaining recognition for sustainable practices through third-party certification, waste minimisation through product reuse, waste removal cost savings, and better outcomes for the environment and community. Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund provided funding to develop the EC-59 C&D Waste Services specification. To read the full specification and register your interest please click here: https://bit.ly/2SERIQq.

With operations that cover construction and demolition waste generation and waste recovery, Taggart has proven it has the appropriate processes and policies to comply with the construction specification. Future projects will be regularly assessed and audited to ensure compliance. Ms Lipscombe says ECNZ is in discussions with several other C&D businesses around the specification and is hopeful more will sign up in the near future.

“We are encouraging others to make a strong commitment to environmental preferability by getting licensed with the ecolabel,” she says.

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