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Product design and materials selection, manufacturing specifications and methods, packaging and delivery, and the instructions on product use and installation contribute to the waste on building sites.

Select building materials and products that reduce waste such as materials that:

  • are salvaged/reclaimed
  • have known minimum wastage rates during installation or use
  • have high recycled content
  • don't need finishes
  • can be reused or recycled
  • are durable, low maintenance and will last for the life span of the building.

Consider supplier practices

Your choice of suppliers can influence the amount of waste generated during manufacture and retailing of the product as well as during construction. Develop a preference for materials from suppliers that have investigated how their product characteristics, manufacturing processes and product packaging can reduce waste.

Look for suppliers that:

  • have waste minimisation/environmental plans or credentials
  • recycle waste product back into new product, or use materials from other waste streams
  • provide special manufacturing runs to clients' specification or design their product range to suit standard sizes of other building products (to reduce the need for resizing on site)
  • consider product durability or ways to update part of the product rather than the entire product during renovations (e.g. by changing veneers or components rather than replacing the entire product)
  • limit maintenance requirements, which may reduce the use (and wastage) of other materials in the installation and use of their product
  • make products that are easy to dismantle for reuse and recycling - by using mechanical fixing instead of adhesives, not blending too many materials together or minimising finishing requirements, while still maintaining quality
  • offer a take-back service for surplus materials, off-cuts, scrap and packaging
  • rationalise and reduce packaging to use minimal types and amounts of materials
  • provide packaging that is reusable or recyclable
  • provide information with the product describing handling, storage and recycling methods for the product, including off-cuts and damaged goods, and any packaging
  • make waste reduction a key part of training, after-sales service and product literature for tradespeople, including how to recycle and reuse the product
  • provide a ‘just-in-time' delivery service to reduce the chance of damaging materials during storage.

Tighten up on estimating and purchasing

  • Plan for reducing wastage to half or less of the typical New Zealand waste figures. By doing this, you reduce your product orders and will give staff an incentive to use resources more efficiently, since there is not a plentiful amount of supplies available.
  • Develop a procurement/purchasing policy so that manufacturers and suppliers are aware of your exact requirements. This can help to avoid over-packaging goods or unnecessary packaging.
  • Order to fit. When ordering materials, double check they are consistent with the dimensions required for the job.

Handle deliveries efficiently

  • Make sure the correct amount of material is brought to site and immediately return oversupply to reduce the potential for product damage and wastage.
  • Minimise time between delivery and installation - excess materials can be damaged on site, increasing the amount of potential wastage.

Reuse second-hand building materials

When reusing building materials, check that they are still fit for purpose. This may require simple visual inspections for quality or engineering testing for loadings or stress depending on the product. See Links for information and contact details of where to source second-hand building materials, and discuss any testing requirements with your local city or district council building inspectors

Suggestions for using second-hand building materials for functional purposes:

  • Reuse cladding such as roofing tiles, roofing steel, insulation panel, fibre-cement panel.
  • Use concrete tilt slab units for retaining walls.
  • Reuse insulation, doors, windows and other building components.
  • Use native and hardwood timbers from weatherboards or framing for flooring.
  • Reuse steel purlins or beams for bracing.

Make a list of the quantity, dimensions and types of materials available for reuse and have them stacked in order on site ready for reuse.

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