News

Building the path to zero waste

The greatest volume of waste in the Auckland region comes from commercial sources not individual households.

Waste from construction and demolition holds the greatest potential for waste minimisation partly because it is the biggest source of materials going to landfill. It is more than double the total waste from all household collections in the region.

Auckland produced at least 568,935 tonnes of construction and demolition waste in fiscal year 2018/2019. That is the equivalent of 23,155 shipping containers.

An average new house build produces 4.5 tonnes of waste, with materials worth more than $31,000 if they were saved rather than sent to landfill.

To put it into perspective, you’d have to set your kerbside bin out weekly for more than 30 years to generate that much waste

Why do valuable materials end up landfill?

Auckland Council undertook a qualitative research project with Colmar Brunton to better understand the industry sentiment towards waste reduction. Construction experts representing a broad range of the industry confirmed that any change needs to clearly articulate the industry benefits, ensure external market structures provide the capability to act sustainably, and be backed by regulation.

Demolition contractors might recycle materials that have a ready market but lament the volume of good reusable construction materials that still go to landfill. While they are aware that community-based centres take these materials, they lack real connections to easily distribute them. They are also wary of adding time, complexity, and risk to the project.