Building site bin chickens

Building a house is expensive, building a passive house possibly even more so (even if it is compact). We’ve made every attempt to reduce costs where possible. One place we’ve attempted to save money is in waste removal, rather than have it included in the building contract we agreed to keep the site tidy and do a weekly tip run. 

We might not have much money, but we have time and muscles; and Gav has excellent trailer reversing skills. It’s our sweat equity. 

Almost every weekend since construction started we’ve headed to the site and loaded the trailer with the waste that has piled up that week and done a tip run.  The kids love it – not. 

Rather than have a skip onsite, all the waste is dumped in a pile where a skip would normally be. For us, loading the trailer isn’t just loading the rubbish, we sort it all by hand into various types of recycling or landfill. That’s every bit of wrapping on building supplies, lump of plaster gunk, framing off cut, tile off cut, insulation off cuts, uber eats bag, coffee cup, energy drink bottle, many random piece of metal, cardboard boxes from new fittings, broken buckets etc sorted by hand.  Gavin is a fastidious bin chicken when it comes to recycling and patiently pulls things apart to seperate out recyclables e.g. cardboard and plastics in packaging.

Some weeks we make up to eight stops dropping of recycling, and have spent up to 30 mins doing laps of Kimbriki tip weighing on and off. The various stops include:

  • Bricks and concrete at Kimbriki (costing $22/tonne) 
  • Metal 
  • Paper 
  • Mixed containers 
  • Polystyrene
  • Hard waste (costing $380/tonne) 
  • Soft plastic to Coles or Woolies RedCycle collection point
  • Coffee cups to a simply cups collection point. 

I know doing this is not for everyone, and I often I wonder why I’m spending hours doing it on the weekend, as it is quite time consuming, dirty and tedious. In the end I’m not sure that we will have saved much money (to date we’ve spent about $2k on tipping fees),  but we have diverted some waste from landfill and learnt where our buildings like to buy their coffee. It’s also got me thinking a lot about how to make recycling easier on a building site, a lot of ideas and questions swimming around my head – is it about convenience, incentive or economising it? I wish I had time to devise a new system, but there’s other work to be done.

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