Case Study: Hotel rebuild serves up recycling bonanza

Hawkins recycles over 50% of waste removed from quake-damaged Rydges Hotel.


In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, Rydges Hotel sat vacant and broken in Christchurch’s red zone. Repairs were delayed until 2018, when Hawkins commenced a programme of work to strip the 14-story building, built as Noah’s in the 1970s before becoming Rydges, back to its ‘shell’ – a process producing a mountain of waste, and an opportunity for recycling and reuse.

With construction and demolition waste making up half of New Zealand’s total waste going to landfill, councils and government look to industry’s main players, such as Hawkins, to implement waste minimisation initiatives.

Hawkins, partnered with EnviroWaste, stepped up with a plan to separate waste on site for reuse and recycling.


By reducing waste through early input in project design and delivery, and recycling waste from project sites, Hawkins works with its clients, consultants and subcontractors to strive for environmental best practice. For the Rydges project, identifying waste streams for diversion from landfill was a critical first step before work began, to strip out damaged elements in preparation for building repairs.


Working with EnviroWaste, Hawkins positioned 9 cubic metre gantry bins, each designated to collect specific materials, at various locations on the site. Site workers deposit GIB, steel, polystyrene and general waste into the allocated gantry bins.

Once site excavation begins, the hardfill is used as backfill in roading and other engineering projects.

The GIB is transported directly to Canterbury Landscape Supplies, based in Kainga, where it is shredded to isolate its core constituent gypsum, which is processed and sold as soil conditioner to farmers.

Recycling steel is a trickier proposition, as major importers, such as China, set tougher standards for scrap imports derived from recycling. However, buildings of Rydges’ vintage are richly veined with high-quality copper pipes and other steel materials.

Any paper-based documents are removed separately and shredded on site by EnviroWaste, before being transported to its local recycling plant for baling and export.

Collected polystyrene is transported to a specialist facility where it is fed into a grinder and turned to fluff, which is then melted and pushed under pressure into a die, extruded and chopped into pellets, then shipped to manufacturers.


Fifteen months into the project, over 50% of the collected waste had been diverted from landfill.

Recycled volumes since the project kicked off in November 2018 were as follows:

Hawkins Stats 2

Kevin Merriman, Hawkins’ on site project manager, is pleased with the result, knowing that the project is making a real difference to the local environment, as well as providing a great example of what’s possible with the right partner.

“We’re passionate about EnviroWaste’s recycling work as we are about Hawkins’ continuing drive for sustainability,” he said.

On the administration front, Hawkins site managers are using EnviroWaste’s newly launched app, called Dash, to order new bins and book their removal.

With the government revealing plans to increase the national landfill levy in 2023, pressure is on to reduce landfill waste. But Hawkins is looking to take a proactive approach now by minimising its waste from the site and taking advantage of the many opportunities made available by EnviroWaste.