Sending building waste to a landfill
A recent report to the Wellington Region Waste Management and Minimisation Joint Committee said it’s estimated that approximately 578,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste is being disposed of to landfills every year in the Wellington region.
The report concluded that “much of this waste will be potentially recoverable (brick and concrete, timber, plasterboard and metal), construction and demolition waste has the potential to be a priority waste stream targeted by councils as a means to reduce waste to landfill”.
I represent GWRC on that Joint Committee, and while regional councils aren’t responsible for the provision of rubbish disposal, we are involved in other parts of the process.
We’re responsible for resource consents and this is an area where the management of waste materials off a site, for example a large construction site, is of keen interest to regional council.
Also regional councils have the responsibility for farm waste — which as recorded in the report to the Joint committee is a huge unknown. Essentially we can only offer guesses as to the scale of illegal dumping on rural properties — but there has been an historic culture and while many have modern farming practices, this is an area that we need to get more information on.
There are a range of potential actions that will enable and empower councils to address the construction and demolition waste issues, either by way of policy changes or through operational investment — but that always involves money which must either come from service user charges or rates.
The current thinking from the Joint Committee for options include: a bylaw to enable regulatory intervention (but having a consistent approach right across the region is essential); councils changing their procurement policies (in which in would require sustainable waste minimisation practises from businesses selling products or services to a council); and establishing processing capacity by investing in dry waste processing, in concrete processing, and even making construction and demolition waste processing areas available. Plenty to process in among all that. It’s worth noting that with the significant demolition work that has been undertaken recently at CentrePort with earthquake-damaged buildings being removed, large mounds of concrete from those buildings have been stockpiled at Kaiwharawhara ready to re-use. So it can be, and is being done in some areas already.