We’re Missing the Big Problem of Recycling | Green Building Council on Reflection Friday


Today is Reflection Friday, and Reclaim has set a mission for it: keep all your waste items and weigh them before disposing of them at the end of the day. Multiply the weight of your waste by 365 days, then consider that for the population of New Zealand.

That’s a lot of waste. So, how we can revolutionise and re-imagine recycling as we progress into the future? How can we get the results we know are necessary?

We spoke to Sam Archer from the New Zealand Green Building Council to find out more about what more we could be doing.

Why don’t you tell us about the Green Building Council?

We’re a membership organisation, we’ve got 500 members from the construction industry. We work collaboratively with our members including some of the biggest players in New Zealand’s construction. What we’re about is best practice in new builds. We run sustainability standards for the built environment, with people designing new buildings and operating buildings and having their efforts rated using the tools that we run.

One of those is HomeStar, our rating system for new build homes, one is Green Star which is for commercial buildings and non-domestic buildings, and our new tool called Green Star performance looks at operational performance in existing builds.

We build a Green Building but does it perform in reality? How is it actually working? Some of it would be around the actual attributes of the building and energy, but mainly it will be the behaviour of the team and the occupants.

What does success look like for you when it comes to sustainability and the future?

I think it will be a building that’s using as little energy as possible. To some extent it would be some onsite renewables, New Zealand has a very low carbon grid so that would be more up to the government. It would be buildings that are using very low amounts of water, that don’t generate much waste in the design of the building and operation.

Why do you think recycling and National Recycling Week are important? What do they mean to the Green Building Council?

For me, an important part of that is that while most people focus on operational recycling the statistics we have here is 50% of waste coming from construction. That’s fairly typical in developed countries.

"While most people focus on operational recycling the statistics we have here is 50% of waste coming from construction."


We’d like to see designers designing out waste in the first place, modular constructions, doing things like designing the size of components to avoid offcuts. We'd like to see contractors working with waste to find alternative uses for the waste that comes out of the site; Green Gorilla, for example, have set up construction waste recycling and making use of them turning treated and incinerated timber into cement.

How has your Recycling Week been? Let us know at hello@methodrecycling.com