The construction and demolition (C&D) industry is one of the largest waste producing industries in New Zealand. The Ministry for the Environment estimates (MfE 2010, Construction and Demolition Waste: How to manage responsibly - www.mfe.govt) that C&D waste may represent up to 20% of all waste going to landfills and around 80% of all waste going to cleanfill in New Zealand. Much of this could be diverted through recycling or reusing (resource recovery).
In the transport sector, C&D waste that can be recycled or reused typically includes soil, concrete and asphalt, steel, iron, brick, plastic piping and electrical fixtures. C&D resource recovery has a number of benefits; it reduces the need for virgin materials and resources, conserves space in landfills and cleanfills, and can lower project costs (through avoided purchasing and disposal costs).
The planning of resource recovery processes should ideally start during the pre-implementation phase of an infrastructure development project. This includes waste forecasting, identifying suitable waste recovery options and building a team for the delivery of the resource recovery actions. The implementation of resource recovery happens at the final design and construction phase of the infrastructure project.
An efficient resource recovery programme can help generate significant cost savings compared with landfill disposal costs. Transport costs can also be reduced; if waste is reused on-site or recycling yards can be identified in closer proximity than landfills or cleanfills. The overall balance between possible costs and revenues depends on a number of variables, such as the efficient handling of materials, the quality of materials and the ability to demand a higher price for the end product. Metals are often the most valuable resources in C&D waste streams.
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