A report from the World Bank shows that when it comes to how much Kiwis create on an individual level, we are one of the worst in the world.

Only eight nationalities out of 161 measured create more waste than us.

This is downright embarrassing.

We absolutely need to pick up our game. All of those tourists that we feverishly market our shores to as '100% Pure' are being conned. Every country in Europe and even North America - seemingly the epitome of consumption - use less waste than us per capita.


Given this and the widespread deterioration of our waterways, I think that the tag 100% Pure is pathetically wrong. If is wasn't for the fact that we have a small population on a relatively large piece of land, given this sort of behaviour, God's Own could be worse than the stinking slums of Bangladesh if our population grows.

So what are we going to do about this?

Shocked by these figures, I investigated a bit more. I found a study saying that up to 50 per cent of our total waste stream could be from construction and demolition.

This hardly surprises me as in only two years of running our events we removed 65,657 pieces of waste that were identifiable as from the construction industry.

It is quite easy to call this a problem. But a very wise woman once told me: "There are no problems, only challenges. And challenges are the birthplaces of opportunities."

The construction and demolition sectors provide massive areas for us to reduce our footprint, in that - with a bit of innovation - even those that refuse to do anything that helps the environment unless it helps their bank balance will get on board.

So here are some examples of people who are getting the waste challenge right:

Downer EDI and Chorus


At the Green Ribbon Awards in 2013 I saw Downer and Chorus recognised for their efforts in reducing waste from the installation of high-speed broadband. The cable reels are a fantastic source of timber and they have diverted 17.6 km of high-density polyethylene ducting, 972 x 360 kg timber cable drums and bolts, 40 tonnes of fibre optic off-cuts and significant volumes of plastic film packaging and pallets from landfill.
Ward Demolition

When the right amount of time is dedicated to deconstruction, a huge amount of savings can be made by not just levelling the building and sending it all to the tip.

In 1996, Ward Demolition recovered about 95 per cent of the materials from the Blow's building in central Auckland, saving an estimated $153,000 in demolition costs.

As a one of my favourite local social enterprises. Rekindle have been turning demolition waste from the Christchurch earthquakes into beautifully-crafted furniture.

Now they are taking it to the next level by aiming to recover and auction off the materials from an entire house. If you are in Christchurch, head along to the beautifully-restored Isaac Theatre Royal for their upcoming exhibition and if you are not, check out the video about the concept.

I think that we should be making this type of clever recovery of materials easier by requiring design that makes deconstruction easier.


I also think that it is urgent that we sort our pathetic and unnecessary consumption problem out. I take my hat off to those who put the effort in through 'plastic free July' and sincerely hope that more people will join the crusade against unnecessary plastic packaging and waste.

We owe it to our kids to look after this great country and not let them inherit a bunch of overflowing, privately-owned landfills from a generation who will be remembered here and overseas as the most greedy that have ever been Aotearoa's custodians.

Do you have any ideas of how we could curb the waste problem here in New Zealand? If so, please leave a comment, or email me.