Taking care of earthquake waste and environmental management

Following the Canterbury earthquakes, it was estimated that approximately 8.75 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste would be generated, equating to roughly 40 years of waste normally sent to landfill from the city. The Waste and Environmental Management Team (WEMT) was introduced to deal with the containment, collection and disposal of earthquake waste and rubble.

Ecan Waste Management 34

WEMT is a joint function of Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council and the regional district councils. We carry out site visits and waste audits at demolition, rebuild and regeneration sites across the region, in both residential and commercial sectors. Waste Management Plans are utilised as an auditing tool to establish the nature of material onsite and how it is to be handled, transported and disposed of. 

How is asbestos dealt with?

A key aspect of dealing with earthquake waste is the management of damaged buildings that are constructed with asbestos. 

Asbestos was a popular building material used in the construction of New Zealand homes, particularly between 1940 and 1990. Asbestos is a significant health hazard when airborne, such as during the demolition of earthquake damaged buildings. 

Intensive planning and preparation is required before undertaking asbestos removal. Asbestos Aware and Work Safe NZ have a list of certified professionals who can provide asbestos management and disposal services.

Remember, asbestos is safe if left intact and undisturbed.