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Waste reduction initiatives see funding boost

24 January, 2013

One third of the latest projects funded by the Victorian Government to reduce the waste output of Victorian businesses have been won by projects associated with RMIT University.

The Victorian Government reinvests funds paid into a special-purpose landfill levy into projects which will help local government and business find better ways to cut their waste output.

In the latest round of funding, the Government announced grants for nine new projects, with three enjoying strong RMIT involvement.

These are a project with the City of Whittlesea to reduce the waste discharges of 20 local companies; a project with property developer Burbank Australia and the Housing Industry Association (HIA) to eliminate construction waste through better design; and a partnership with developers Metricon Homes, Australand Holdings and others to develop a more waste-efficient supply chain management process for construction companies.

The Whittlesea and Burbank projects are being led by RMIT Centre for Design staff Dr Stephen Clune, Dr Enda Crossin and Dr Karlie Verghese.

The City of Whittlesea project aims to assist a group of northern suburbs manufacturers known as the Plenty Food Group to identify and reduce their waste through a range of measures including waste audits, surveys and participatory workshops.

The results of this 18-month process among 20 companies will be used towards the development of a waste reduction "toolkit" and guide for manufacturers by RMIT's Centre for Design.

Ultimately, the toolkit and guide will be circulated to more than 150 Plenty Food Group members.

According to Dr Clune, the results of the project are expected to fill important gaps in current knowledge about the waste generated by food manufacturing and construction industry in Melbourne.

"We expect to be able to identify some significant waste reduction opportunities," he said.

RMIT's Centre for Design will complete detailed audits at each phase during construction of one of Burbank's "7 Star" homes, and use the information from this to work with Burbank's design team and suppliers to identify opportunities to eliminate construction waste through revised design and supply chain innovation. The HIA will also provide support.

The project will then aim to produce a trial display home, built with zero construction waste.

The third project, with Metricon and Australand, involves materials manufacturer Boral, FMG Engineering, and the Master Builders Association, which together form a group calling itself the Australian Housing Supply Chain Alliance.

It will seek to develop and test ways for builders to better track their own waste created during construction processes, and improve organisations' internal knowledge and behaviour in regard to how waste is generated.

The Project Leader is Professor Kerry London, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching, in the College of Design and Social Context (formerly Professor of Construction Management in the School of Property, Construction and Project Management) with chief investigators Dr Malik Kalfhan and Dr Tayyab Maqsood. The Chair of the Alliance, Rob Anderson, is an Industry Fellow on the project and will help to achieve industry involvement.

Projects outcomes are expected to include a set of guidelines to help Metricon and Australand staff lift their skills, knowledge and application of good supply chain management practices for waste management.

According to Professor London, research into landfill waste reduction back to the supply chain level has not been undertaken elsewhere in the world.

"These results are expected to be able to break new ground, so we are looking forward to the outcomes," she said.

Forums and events will be staged along the way to involve industry partners and stakeholders.

The combined cost of all three projects is more than $570,000.

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George Coleman | Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 12:02 PM
As a recent home builder, through a building company, I am always digging up left over materials from the build around the house. I would be pleased to have that material cleaned up at the end of the build. this could be done by removing a 150mm layer of soil and replacing it or put down a shaid sail/shaid cloth type of material around the house when the pad is layed and then remove this at the end of the build just before hand over. All of this including tracking of materials used and removed will forc the price of home up again. Will the cost be justifiabl and how will this be measured controlled and tracked? Is this more red taip for the sake of an idea that will not remove a problem but simply shift the problem?