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  • Writer's pictureMariska Olivier Steyn

Waste Management and Minimisation in New Zealand - how we can contribute towards sustainability

Updated: May 10, 2023

Green waste truck with operator before heading to the tip

New Zealand is a beautiful country with a unique environment that is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. However, like many other countries, New Zealand faces the challenge of waste management and sustainability. In recent years, the government and various organisations have taken steps to minimise waste and promote sustainability in the country.

Waste Minimisation

Waste minimisation is the process of reducing the amount of waste that is generated and sent to landfills. In New Zealand, the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 was introduced to promote waste minimisation and encourage the reduction, reuse, and recycling of waste. The act requires local authorities to develop waste management plans and implement waste minimisation programs.

One of the most successful food waste minimisation programs in New Zealand is the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. This campaign aims to reduce food waste by providing tips and tools to help people plan their meals, store food correctly, and use leftovers. The campaign has been successful in reducing food waste by 20% in households that have participated.

Another hugely successful waste minimisation project is run by the Ara Education Charitable Trust, in partnership with Auckland Council and Auckland International Airport. This project focuses on reducing construction waste by deconstructing old houses and reusing the materials in other renovation projects.

Houses that have been earmarked for demolition, are relocated to the Ara House Renovation site in Nixon Road at the Auckland Airport, where students from various South Auckland High Schools collaborate to deconstruct and renovate these houses. The students are taught different trade skills while renovating the houses and many of them get into apprenticeships and other job opportunities through this programme.

The Importance of Minimising and Managing construction waste

Construction is an essential part of our society, providing us with the infrastructure and buildings we need to live and work. However, construction also generates a significant amount of waste, which can have negative impacts on the environment and human health.

The Impact of Construction Waste

Construction waste includes materials such as concrete, wood, metal, and plastics. These materials can take up valuable space in landfills, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and release harmful chemicals into the environment. Additionally, construction waste can pose a health hazard to workers and nearby communities if not managed properly.

Minimising Construction Waste

Minimising construction waste starts with careful planning and design. By designing buildings and infrastructure with sustainability in mind, we can reduce the amount of waste generated during construction and throughout the building's life cycle. This can include using recycled materials, designing for deconstruction, and reducing the overall size of the building.

Another way to minimise construction waste is through efficient construction practices. This can include using prefabricated components, reducing packaging waste, and implementing a waste management plan on the construction site.

If you would like more information and tips on how to reuse and recycle deconstructed materials, you can read more on our Forever House project that is regularly published by Stuff. Click here to read the article on reusing timber.

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