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Cachet’s Ambition To Normalise Recycling Construction Waste After Achieving 99% Reduction On Project


Cachet Group, a commercial interiors design and construct firm, set itself the ambitious challenge of diverting at least 95% of waste from New Zealand’s landfills on a retail bank project in Westfield’s St Lukes Mall, Auckland. Surprised and buoyed by their result in successfully diverting 20.8 cubic metre from landfill – 99% of waste from site – Cachet is motivated to normalise this way of working for the industry.

Cachet Director Greg Parsonson says when considering that 40-50% of New Zealand’s total landfill waste can be attributed to construction and demolition waste, the sector’s opportunity to materially impact the country’s sustainability efforts is huge.

“We set out to push boundaries on this project with the elusive ‘zero- waste’ goal in mind. It wasn’t easy because the industry norms supporting green construction simply haven’t been well-established yet, but we are incredibly proud of what we have achieved working together with the support of dedicated partners and contractors.

“While we were close to achieving a true zero waste outcome on this project, the reality is that there is no commercially viable way to rehome the remaining small percentage of waste from the site in New Zealand.

The unrecyclable material? Dust, cable ties and smaller hard plastics.

“We even looked at creative solutions for diverting the dust, such as commissioning a local artist to craft with it, but this wasn’t practical,” says Parsonson.

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Dr Terri-Ann Berry from the Environmental Innovation Centre comments: "New Zealand unfortunately doesn't yet have the infrastructure to achieve zero waste on construction sites. Some materials just don't have a suitable recycling option available while others, although theoretically recyclable, are very difficult to separate in a way that is clean enough for recycling.”

She explains that commercial drivers, such as the cost of labour in construction, means waste management needs to be practical and efficient to be viable.

She also points out that not all reuse or recycling options are of the same quality.

“Ideally, you would want to recycle waste into the same product or something else of high quality, but often downcycling is the only available option. There is still a lot of innovation required in this field which has to be driven by real life pilot projects, with willing industry leaders like Cachet, testing better solutions."

Parsonson agrees, adding: “Another telling sign that we are in the early stages of adopting green construction practices as an industry, is the absence of an official programme or accreditation that can verify and validate it.

“It is our hope that as projects like the one we have just completed become more common, enablers to better waste management will strengthen and, together with increased commercial viability, will support an industry-wide shift towards better waste minimisation practices.”

Diverting 99% of waste in this recent project resulted in some key differences to a typical contemporary site waste management plan, and Josh Stewart, Cachet’s Senior Project Manager, explains the biggest difference was in the project’s procurement processes and a significant uplift in site morale.

“Identifying and verifying contractors and materials, and managing the site in a way that could support our waste elimination goals was challenging because in many cases this criteria is new yet growing for the industry.

“Once the project was underway, careful, and continuous waste observation by site management was required to monitor the busy nature of construction. This included monitoring even the smallest of details, like ensuring contractors had reusable rather than disposable coffee cups, and banning single use and non-recyclable food packaging on site.”

Sustainable Waste Management Company Junk Run was commissioned to remove and divert recyclable waste from the site, and report on the results of the waste diversion efforts.

Parsonson says Cachet is about to take the learnings and confidence gained from this project and do it all again with a new office fit-out for MYOB in an Auckland-based six green star building, where it is already working on the workplace design for Spark New Zealand’s, Auckland HQ.

“We are committed to pushing boundaries in pursuit of achieving zero-waste, and it’s fantastic to see demand and expertise growing across the sector with more project partners keen to be part of the journey. It’s through working together and growing demand that we have the best opportunity to achieve outcomes better for our environment and our communities.

“It is my goal that one day we will be able to report 100% of waste has been diverted from landfills on our construction projects.”


About Cachet
Cachet Group offers tailored architectural commercial interior design, project management and construction delivery services, all through in-house resources across Australia and New Zealand.

The team takes a highly personalised approach to projects, spending time understanding specific needs of the brand, their people and new technologies & trends, before shaping a bespoke process and outcome for their space.

The designs are thoughtful, meaningful, fit-for-purpose and delivered with a consistent quality focus, offering full-lifecycle support following completion to help maintain and optimise the space.

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