How-to guide: Naylor Love - Diverting construction waste
Guidance for construction business owners, project managers and contractors who want to make their worksites more environmentally sustainable by reducing the amount of construction waste ending up in landfill.
Learning about sustainability
As a first step, you may wish to gain a basic understanding of key sustainability concepts, principles, and practices. There are many publications and free online resources which cover the topics of environmental sustainability, construction, and the circular economy.
Do a sustainability course to upskill key people in your business. Naylor Love picked one of their environment managers to do several training courses with the Sustainable Business Network and the New Zealand Green Building Council. Their environmental manager also gained a Certificate in Sustainable Practice (Level 5) from Otago Polytechnic.
Educate others in your company about sustainable business practices. Not everybody may be onboard at the beginning of a company's sustainability journey, so it's good to use tools, research, and data to showcase the environmental and commercial benefits of going green.
Consider developing a company sustainability strategy and/or policies. This does not have to be a complicated or prolonged exercise; for example, Naylor Love's sustainability strategy fits on one short webpage. You may wish to include some basic strategic elements, such as what your company sustainability objectives and what actions you are going to take to get there.
Do a trial/case study to test whether your desired sustainability objective is possible. You will likely need to discuss this with your client(s) and may wish to seek external funding. Naylor Love assessed where funding options were available and made the choice to work closely with Auckland Council to develop the waste trial at the AUT North Campus worksite. Most councils in NZ have waste minimisation funding available.
Monitor and evaluate the outcomes of your trial/case study. Measure or estimate the status quo (i.e. if you had done the same thing as usual) and compare it to the final result. Naylor Love used one of their estimator/quantity surveyors from the very beginning of the waste trial to collect data and understand the financial implications of the project.
- Clear a space on the worksite to make a sorting area so resources can be separated easily.
- Organise different bins or skips (depending on size of the worksite) for different building products and materials.
- Create clear signage which informs what building products and materials can be put in which bins/skips. Naylor Love used WasteMINZ guidelines to develop their signs.
- Keep excess building products and materials as clean as possible, because dirty, dusty, or contaminated goods can be rejected by recyclers and up-cyclers.
- Train people to sort waste, whether its existing staff and contractors or new labourers hired specifically for the task. It helps to find people who are a good fit for the role and will take ownership of the work. Naylor Love has developed a NZQA micro-credential for resource sorting which is delivered nationwide by an independent facilitator. If you’re interested in this resource sorting course, email Sosefo Sime.
- Observe how resource sorting is being implemented on site. Annie from Naylor Love and Mark from Auckland Council were both present at the AUT North Campus site. They monitored what their resource sorters were doing and made changes to their processes along the way to ensure that building products and materials were being separated and distributed correctly.
- Listen to feedback from the trainees - they may find opportunities to improve your resource sorting processes.
- If you decide that you are not able to sort waste on site, consider using a skip provider that practices waste sorting offsite, like Green Gorilla or Waste Management. These services are available in Auckland and some other regions as well.
Diverting resources from landfill
- Conduct an inventory of the building products and materials you are using, including any packaging those products and materials are coming in. Some of these may be common to most construction worksites, whereas others may be more specific to your worksite.
- Identify and seize opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle or upcycle the building products and materials in your inventory. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started:
- Will our clients/contractors work with us to reduce construction waste from this project?
- Are there reusable alternatives for building products or materials that we usually throw away?
- Can our engineers/architects change the design to create a more sustainable outcome?
- Can we change our building consent to accept an alternative product?
- Do the products that we're using have a product stewardship scheme in place?
- If there's no existing product stewardship scheme, can we talk with either the product manufacturer and/or supplier to consider developing a product stewardship scheme?
- Can we change to building products and materials that are more environmentally sustainable (e.g. upcycled products which are already part of the circular economy)?
- Can we get creative and find a second life for products which we are going to throw away?
- Which of the products that we're currently throwing away could we keep for later use?
- Can we work with waste collectors, including our local council, to find ways to divert certain building products and materials away from landfill?
- Build relationships with your clients, contractors, architects, engineers, product manufacturers, suppliers, waste collectors and the local councils. Well-developed relationships with these project partners will allow your business to improve your ability to reduce, reuse, recycle and upcycle excess building products and materials.
- Have an environmental champion (or champions) to drive this work. One easy way to do this is to find people within your company who are already passionate about environmental issues.
- Measure or estimate how much you are throwing away initially (i.e. the status quo), what you did throw away and what you were able to divert away from landfill. If possible, use somebody like an estimator/quantity surveyor to collect and analyse data.
Naylor Love resource sorter qualification(external link) - naylorlove.co.nz
WasteMINZ(external link) - wasteminz.org.nz
Naylor Love's sustainability strategy(external link) - naylorlove.co.nz
Sustainable Business Network training(external link) - sustainable.org.nz
New Zealand Green Building Council training(external link) - nzgbc.org.nz