Tidy tradies building a cleaner Wyndham

Project information

  • Name: Building a cleaner Wyndham
  • Summary: Tackling construction litter issue by liaising with developers, builders and tradespeople
  • Lead: Wyndham City Council
  • Location: Point Cook and Werribee
  • Themes: construction site litter; cleaning up waterways

Construction can be a messy business. On top of the dust and noise, any waste that isn’t disposed of properly can end up creating litter off-site.

“We have masses of construction happening in Wyndham,” said Evan Lockhart, Waste and Litter Education Officer at Wyndham City Council. “Despite the best efforts made with fences and cages, litter does escape from building sites, especially wrappers from builder’s lunches and snacks.

“We’ve had continual reports from residents about building site litter throughout Wyndham.

And unfortunately, the litter tends to end up in our local waterways, creeks and grasslands. It’s damaging for our local environment and affects the amenity of our area.”

With funding from Sustainability Victoria, Wyndham City Council trialled a ‘clean site’ approach with two local builders to tackle building site litter. After learning about the impact of litter, tradies agreed to contain rubbish, carry out regular litter sweeps and dispose of lunch rubbish properly over six weeks.

Above: Saratoga building with pledge sign

Wolfdene, the developer of the Saratoga estate in Point Cook and Lendlease, the developer of the Harpley estate in Werribee, both signed up to take part in the trial.

Mixed results with some resourcing issues

At the Saratoga estate, the project started well with a 70 per cent drop in the litter count, but this dropped to about 40 per cent in the next two monitoring events.

2 Litter items from Saratoga monitoring site

The project team did run a successful clean-up at the public space and waterway next to the building site. “With help from construction staff, a local community group and school students, we removed about 450 litres of litter,” said Evan. “This was a great way to take participants from a conceptual understanding of the litter issue to really understanding the impact.”

The second site, the Harpley estate, did not significantly improve, but the project officer was away for the first part of the project. Signage and litter bags were not distributed, nor was the litter count monitored.

On his return, he measured a decrease over the last few weeks, but many of the properties were built or at lockup stage with few tradies on site. So, it was not possible to show any link.

“One issue we had for developments in their early stages was tracking down site supervisors,” explained Evan. “They weren’t always on site and it turned out to be more productive to always call them first.”

“The litter bags used on site were branded with the project logo. In hindsight, it might have worked better to label the bags more clearly as ‘litter bags’. We couldn’t talk to all the contractors onsite and this would make it more obvious what the bags were for.”

3 Litter bags and pledge sign at the Harpley estate

Learning how to get things done

“Before this project, the council wasn’t sure how to tackle litter at the source,” said Evan. “And while we may not have completely resolved the issue, we have a better idea of who we need to talk to and where to spend our energy.

“Working with developers and building supervisors helped us understand what will and won’t work on the ground and the challenges of working onsite. This was a really positive experience for us. The developers were also much better placed to influence the tradies onsite than us, so having a good relationship with the developers saved us a lot of time and effort.

“Another positive has been all the interest in the project. The developers were very supportive and keen to be involved. Other developers have since approached us about being involved. Media interest was also high.”

Next steps

“We plan to expand this pilot in partnership with developers,” explained Evan. “We believe that with continued support from developers and the council’s Legislative Services together with simple targeted messaging, we have a good foundation for reducing building site litter. This could then potentially be rolled out across Victoria.”

More information

Contact Evan Lockhart, Waste and Litter Education Officer at Wyndham City Council on 03 9742 0777 or evan.lockhart@wyndham.vic.gov.au