Sustainability Victoria’s drive to improve resource recovery in the property sector

Last week, Sustainability Victoria (SV) hosted a forum to explore how the Better Buildings Partnership’s (BPP) work on stripout waste, might be best applied to Victoria. Edge facilitated the event and we discussed the opportunities, challenges, and industry needs in order to drastically improve resource recovery from building refurbishment. Generally, every 1000 square metres of vacated office space generates 63 tonnes of material during its refurbishment, which for the most part contains a surprisingly small range of products: glass, plasterboard, laminated timbers, metals, ceiling tiles, carpet and office furniture.

The BPP’s members are a group of highly motivated property industry leaders who manage commercial, retail and industrial property across the country. Through a collective approach to addressing industry challenges, the BBP has developed guidelines to best practice that document onsite processes, present standard contract clauses, and tools to help document, reuse and recover the materials left by outgoing tenants. The adoption of this toolkit, delivered as part of the NSW EPA Circulate Program (A component of Waste Less Recycle More), has proven to deliver massive reductions to landfill, and, has created a valuable stream of products and materials to be reabsorbed into the economy.

The aim of the event was to explore how the industry might replicate BPP’s Sydney initiative in Melbourne. It has seen a tripling of average resource recovery over the past 4 years, and it is estimated that up to 13,000t of building material could be diverted from landfill if a similar improvement could be achieved in Melbourne.

The event started the conversation in Victoria and has created a “To Do” list of things that could be done to help transfer the knowledge and best practice from the BBP’s work in a new city. These included:

  • Starting a collaboration between SV and Better Buildings Partnership to focus on building refurbishment waste.
  • Creating and publishing a list of “Receivers” in Victoria – companies that can take materials recovered from building refurbishment waste and use for new products and services.
  • Facilitating the development of new ideas on how to extract resources from the waste stream (for productive reuse).
  • Investigating and supporting Product Stewardship Schemes for furniture products coming to the end of their useful life.

Edge thanks all the speakers, Warren Overton, SV, Paul Wall (Chair of BPP),  Ben Thomas, GPT, Erin Kyne, Built . We commend the team for their work and we hope that we can achieve similar results in Victoria.

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