Innovative timber pack covers replace single-use plastic

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Funding from Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund has allowed construction company Naylor Love and Mitre 10 MEGA to trial an initiative that could transform the way timber is delivered and stored on construction sites all over the country.

Construction and demolition waste contributes at least 10,000 tonnes to the amount of plastic landfilled in Auckland annually.

But since construction waste is usually not sorted by material, there is limited data on the potential to divert materials from landfill.

A joint project by Unitec, Mitre 10 MEGA Glenfield and Naylor Love has been working to identify where and what types of plastic appear in building projects to design out waste where possible.

No re-use stream available

Construction timber is typically delivered to building sites in packs up to six metres long, and covered in a plastic wrap to protect from weather elements while stored on site.

The plastic wrap is discarded into the general waste bin and taken to landfill as there is no re-use stream available.

Naylor Love and Mitre 10 have rolled out purpose-made Timber Pack Covers to replace the single-use plastic. The covers are heavy duty tarps, and can be used many times over.

Naylor Love project manager Annie Day describes the Timber Pack Covers as “an ideal solution, eliminating single-use plastic while ensuring that the timber is protected from knocks and weather in transit and on site.”

Auckland Council general manager for waste solutions Parul Sood says waste from construction and demolition is more than double the total waste from all household collections in Auckland, so industry leadership is needed.

Incubation funding

“Auckland Council is keen to provide the incubation funding and bring partners together to identify the best opportunities to reduce waste,” Sood says.

Associate Professor Dr Terri-Ann Berry, director of Environmental Solutions Research Centre at Unitec, says their research is most useful if it can be successfully applied to achieve the best outcomes.

“This involves working closely with industry, industry providers and regulators. It is great to see new solutions emerging from our research insights,” Berry says.

The Timber Pack Cover trial is one of several waste reduction initiatives being trialled as part of Mitre 10’s sustainability plan, according to the company’s sustainability manager Julie Roberts.

“We’re working with trade and industry partners to address problematic waste streams and provide solutions for customers,” Roberts says.

“Post-consumer solutions like this trial and the Expol polystyrene recycling programme, alongside work we’re doing to reduce and improve packaging that comes into our business, are important steps on our sustainability journey.

“These innovations support the government’s focus on transitioning New Zealand to a circular economy.”

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