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An effective waste management system requires space, planning and commitment from everyone on site.

Key things to do:

Work to construction stages

Horvath-Timber-bin---better.jpgDifferent waste types occur at different stages of the building project, so you won't need all the waste containers on site for the whole project. Plan waste separation around the stages:

  • Foundations and earthworks - timber, concrete, soil, vegetation.
  • Framing - metal, timber, concrete.
  • Cladding - metal, brick, concrete, timber, fibre-cement and plastics.
  • Insulation, HVAC, wall linings, electrical, plumbing - plasterboard, insulation, metal, plastic, polystyrene, cardboard, tile, sweepings.
  • Fit out - cardboard, timber, plastic, polystyrene, metal, tiles, hazardous materials, sweepings.

Set up one designated waste storage area

In general, contractors and staff will use the most convenient skip or bin, regardless of whether it is for recycling or disposal. Many smaller bins over one site encourages people to use the nearest bin (and mix up the various waste types making it harder to recycle). Only having one waste storage area avoids this ‘convenience' problem, and also helps to keep the site orderly and tidy.

Use separate containers

  • Each waste type needs a separate bin, skip, pile etc. at the designated waste storage area.
  • Consider how the materials will be transported to the recycling operator or other client, and store appropriately. For example, if front-end loaders and trucks will be used, then stockpiling materials may be appropriate. If skips will be used, then storing the materials in skips may be appropriate. Trailers are useful for moving around sites, particularly if there is no crane on-site to move gantry bins or skips.
  • Determine arrangements with the various firms for removing waste and recyclables from site - you may be penalised for contaminating waste streams by not sorting correctly on site, so this system requires good training of staff and contractors.

Use appropriate containers/methods for each material type

  • Cardboard - cage from a recycling operator, or flatten and pile on a pallet for pick up (keep dry if possible).
  • Concrete, brick etc - half skips (4.5 m3) as concrete is too heavy for the 9 m3 skips. For large volumes or for on-site processing, store in piles. These materials are difficult to separate once mixed with other materials, and can easily damage or contaminate them.
  • Metal - pile, skip or trailer, depending on the recycling operator, and the volumes. Avoid or remove contamination (such as plastic or concrete) prior to transportation.
  • Plasterboard - covered skip or front loading bin with lid, or stacked on a pallet for reuse. Skips or bins with lids or covers reduce damage from moisture while on-site and during transportation and prevents gypsum dust from escaping and causing a nuisance.
  • Plastic (hard) - bin with lid so it doesn't blow around the site.
  • Plastic (wrap and film) - trailer or front loading bin with a lid so that it doesn't blow around the site.
  • Polystyrene - large plastic bags that can be securely tied so that pieces don't blow around the site.
  • Residual waste - skip or front loading bin. Once you have followed up all possible avenues for reuse and recycling you will need to ensure that residual waste is disposed of responsibly. Only use disposal facilities that are consented by the regional council, or have met the permitted activity status in regional plans. These records should be available from the disposal facilities or regional councils for you to view. Otherwise you risk fines or prosecution under the Resource Management Act (1991).
  • Soil - stockpile on site or load straight onto a truck for removal.
  • Treated timber - keep separate from other timber in a pile or bin, as long as there is easy access by staff for reuse. Treated timber that is not sorted for reuse should be collected with any remaining waste going to an appropriate facility.
  • Untreated timber - bin, skip or pile, as long as there is easy access by staff for reuse. Contamination such as steel, dirt and soil should be avoided or removed prior to transportation.
  • Vegetation - stockpile or compost on site or load straight onto a truck for removal.

Label clearly

  • Use clear signage for all storage areas and containers to avoid cross-contamination (for example, getting plastics dirty, spilling paint or adhesives onto timber, or mixing different qualities of plasterboard or timber).
  • Use the RONZ recycling symbols or some other type of clear signage on containers - see
  • Signage should include the type and grade of material and any instructions for product protection, for example, "Keep dry".
  • Include a list of unacceptable materials where relevant. Be specific, for example, "No soil or plant matter", "No screws and nails", "No concrete or plastic", "No treated timber".
  • Signs should be easy to take on and off bins - magnetic signs or signs with hooks work well, and whiteboard signs allow you to change the signage depending on the waste types.

Protect stored materials

  • Check with your waste contractor or recycling operator for storage requirements.
  • Store materials to avoid cross-contamination and damage, and to allow easy movement around the site.
  • Store easily damaged materials indoors or under cover to protect from weather where possible. Otherwise, cover with canvas, plastic or other material to protect from sun and rain.
  • Lock recycling bins at night and weekends to prevent rubbish dumping and contamination.
  • Have a staff member or contractor check the waste storage area periodically (perhaps at the end of each day, or during site clean ups) and sort any contamination.
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