The New Zealand Government is funding a series of initiatives to reduce waste from construction and demolition through its Waste Minimisation Fund.
It says it will provide $1.1 million in funding to Auckland-based Waste Revolution to build a commercial resource and recovery centre for the storage and redistribution of construction, demolition and commercial waste.
“This initiative is a great example of a circular solution that encourages reusing materials which would otherwise end up in landfill,” says Environment Minister David Parker. “We expect this project to redirect 3,500 tonnes of waste material each year and create new jobs.”
A further $750,000 is tagged for a construction and demolition waste-processing facility in Feilding, two hours north of Wellington, where 80,000 tonnes of building materials will be recycled and reused each year.
“There is limited capacity to process and recover construction and demolition waste in the lower North Island currently, so this new facility will quickly reduce the amount of waste going into landfill around the region,” says Parker.
The government is also providing Porirua City Council with $164,250 to determine if a construction and demolition recycling facility is feasible in that region. More than half of all waste disposed to landfill in Porirua comes from construction and demolition.
Building boom increasing construction waste
In 2016, 86 per cent of the 1.6 million tonnes of waste sent to landfill in Auckland came from the commercial sector. That included construction, demolition, infrastructure, and other activities.
Partnering with industry to find alternatives to landfill for commercial waste is one of the priority areas identified by the Auckland Council Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2018, which has a target to reduce total waste to landfill by 30 per cent by 2027.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not halted a decades-long building boom in Auckland and New Zealand more broadly. According to Stats NZ, building activity steadily increased in New Zealand between 2012 and 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic slowed construction for two quarters before bouncing back with vigour in the September quarter.
Monthly data from September 2020 shows the value of building consents issued by Auckland Council exceeded $1 billion for the first time in a single month, with residential projects accounting for more than $700 million of approvals. Building consents issued in Auckland accounted for 44 per cent of the national total of $2.4 billion.
“Construction is the main source of waste sent to landfill, and much of this could be reduced, reused and recovered,” says Parker. “Diverting construction waste from landfill is another step towards helping New Zealand become a low waste, low emissions economy.”