Housing developments and industrial construction sites are notorious sources of litter, waste and sediment, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Litter Ambassador and Bundaberg President of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Bill Moorhead says builders and tradespeople can make a big difference to the amount of waste generated on a building site and the management of that waste.
“Clients can also influence the way waste is managed,” he said. “Waste management is a legitimate cost and customers need to support builders and insist that waste materials are disposed of correctly. There are also savings that can be made through careful management of building materials between jobs and these saving should be passed on to clients.”
“The UDIA does not tolerate illegal dumping of construction and industrial waste,” he said. “Our peak body is fully supportive of council efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of illegal dumping. This practice is bad for the environment and gives the perpetrator an unfair financial advantage over other businesses that are doing the right thing.”
Skip bins are the most common solution to managing solid waste such as timber, bricks and tiles, however Mr Moorhead would like to see builders implementing better systems on site to keep useful materials out of landfill.
He said there are many opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle materials on the work site including vast amounts of cardboard and plastic packaging that comes onto a building site and usually goes straight to landfill. He applauds builders and tradespeople who are making the effort to ‘Bin It’ — because they know it’s right!
“Liquid waste presents more difficulties for workers on construction sites,” he said. “Everyone is aware of the negative impact of plaster, concrete and paint being washed down stormwater drains and most tradespeople now wash out their equipment on the grass where it can break down, causing less environmental damage. Silt fencing and bunding of sites to keep liquid waste out of the stormwater is one area that needs improvement on many job sites.”
In addition to the environmental benefits of keeping a lid on waste, litter and silt leaving construction sites, Mr Moorhead said there are also significant financial benefits.
“Clean, tidy work sites are more efficient, there are less accidents, the workers are happier, less product is wasted and the buyer gets their property completed sooner,” he said. “Everyone stands to benefit when the building industry takes waste management seriously.”
Dumping 200 L or more, about the amount that would fit in a wheelie bin, anywhere other than a designated waste management facility is illegal and penalties of over $6000 apply for each infringement. Penalties increase according to the volume and type of items discarded illegally.
The Bundaberg Regional Council introduced an Illegal Dumping and Littering program in 2013. Since then, more than $36,000 in fines have been issued but the problem of loose litter on roadsides and adjacent to commercial premises continues to grow. CCTV cameras installed at illegal dumping hotspots has assisted in the difficult task of identifying offenders.
If you see household, garden or industrial waste being dumped in the bush, or rubbish being dropped or thrown from a vehicle or boat, you can report the incident to Bundaberg Regional Council.
The Taking the Lead on Litter! Project is supported by the Queensland Government’s Litter and Illegal Dumping Community and Industry Partnerships Program.
For more information about the BMRG’s Taking the Lead on Litter project, please contact Jacinta Jowett, Project Coordinator on (07) 4181 2999.