A building project has proven the perfect litmus test of Auckland Council’s commitment to a zero-waste future by utilising ‘green build’ construction practices.
The Waiōrea Community Recycling Centre in Western Springs will open in August this year after an extensive refurbishment of the heritage building.
When remedial work was needed on the roof and parapet of the 1930s building, Auckland Council’s Senior Waste Planning Specialist Mark Roberts was adamant shrink-wrap would not be used to cover the building.
“To keep the weather out, the most convenient solution would have been to cover it in single-use plastic shrink-wrap. It’s been the go-to option in the construction industry for the past twenty years or more. But despite assurances it is often recycled, I still see this plastic regularly end up in landfill.
“With this building, we wanted to try to say no to a single-use product, particularly as the work would be done during Plastic Free July.”
With construction and demolition waste comprising up to half of all waste going to landfill, Roberts has been working with developers to solve this sector-wide issue.
“We don’t have infinite resources, nor a bottomless pit for waste. If we’re asking industry to change its business-as-usual practices, then we, as the council, must be innovative and start to set the example. That’s why we challenged our contractors to come up with a better alternative to shrink-wrap.”
After considering various alternatives, including tarpaulins, the option chosen to replace shrink-wrap is the Keder system, which is a fabric stretched over rails that allows it to slide into place. Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but it is also less unsightly. The system itself is flexible with a variety of uses including for marquees, tents, and awnings. Most importantly, it is designed to be taken down and reused multiple times.
The Waiōrea Community Recycling Centre is a partnership between MPHS Community Trust and Auckland Council. It will serve as a community resource recovery centre and education hub. As well as repurposing an existing building, the project incorporates circular building initiatives including the installation of reused Interface carpet tiles.
“Our goal is a zero-waste city by 2040, which means finding effective ways to reduce waste and create reusable resources. As part of the wider resource recovery network, Waiōrea will help achieve that goal. It’s up to all of us in our communities and our businesses to do the right thing.”