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Giving Construction and Demolition Waste New Life: Melway Bin Hire and Demolition

In 2018-19, the Australian construction and demolition (C&D) sector generated 27 million tonnes of waste, making it the largest source of managed waste in Australia [1].

While three quarters (76%) of C&D waste is recycled [2], companies like Melway Bin Hire and Demolition are making significant inroads in raising this figure.

We sat down with Melway’s Rayanne El-hawli, who works alongside her father and founder of the business, Mark El-hawli, to look at the sustainable approach their business is taking to C&D.

Melway complete more than 400 demolition projects a year, and with 20 years of operation under their belt they’ve been able to tune their approach to recycling to a fine art – read on to find out how they do it.

Can you tell us a little bit about Melway – what you specialise in, and how it started?

“We are a family owned and operated demolition and skip bin company operating Melbourne-wide,” says El-hawli.

“My father Mark started the company in 2001, making this year our 20th anniversary, and with hard work Melway has blossomed into a state-recognised, leading bin hire and demolition company.

“Our services include partial demolitions, office and house strip-outs, and commercial and residential demolitions. My two brothers and I work alongside our dad and our fantastic team of 70 employees, to complete over 400 demolition projects a year.

“Our goal is to be at the forefront of our industry by providing unrivalled service, eco-friendly practices and consistently exceeding our customer’s expectations.”

What’s Melway’s philosophy around managing waste?

“Melway’s philosophy from the very beginning has been to reduce, reuse and recycle,” explains El-hawli.

“This approach started with my father, and he’s instilled the same values in us. We separate reclaimed materials into piles, with each going to their respective waste or recycling facility. These materials include organic waste, such as timber, green waste and soil, which we send to Repurpose It. We also recycle concrete, bricks, roof tiles and even metal.

“Melway also manages waste that comes through the skip bin aspect of the business – we have our own in-house transfer station, where our crew hand-separates the materials into piles, minimising the waste going into landfill.

“We collaborate with builders too, so the building material that comes through on site gets sorted. We even clean and organise bricks and keep them on pallets at the site. We recycle so much, even the metal from discarded mattresses.

“We aim to reduce 95% of demolition waste destined for landfill, partnering with a number of companies to do this, including Repurpose It. We hope to get that number as close to 100% as possible in the future – we’ve been educating ourselves on how we can improve by keeping on top of Environmental Protection Acts, conducting our own research, and talking to experts in the field, like Repurpose It.”

How do you partner with recycling facilities, like Repurpose It? 

“We have collaborated with Repurpose It on many projects over the past three years,” says El-hawli.

“We’re currently sending our topsoil and green waste to Repurpose It because we know it’s in safe hands. We’ve delivered over 6,700 tonnes of material to Repurpose It from demolition and skip bin hire, all saved from landfill.

“By doing so we’re contributing to Repurpose It’s mission of eliminating waste. We’re fans of their closed loop resource recovery mission too.”

What’s the biggest challenge facing construction and demolition sites when it comes to managing waste responsibly?

“The main challenge is education – there’s not enough public knowledge around the use of recycled construction materials,” says El-hawli.

“We make it our mission to educate our employees on the importance of recycling, so that they can continue to separate the recyclable and reusable materials from that which can’t be salvaged. If you can arm people with the right knowledge, it’s a win-win situation.

“It’s only recently that people have woken up to the consequences of resource mismanagement. We don’t inherit the Earth, we borrow from future generations. The media plays a big part in shining a light on the environment, whereas previously it has been swept under the rug.”

Regarding the way the industry tackles handling waste, do you hope to see specific changes in the next five years? Or do you see any trends already emerging?

“The Environmental Protection Regulations that came out earlier in the year were a catalyst for significant changes in the way we manage and protect the environment,” explains El-hawli.

“We’re getting a lot of enquiries about our recycling methods and what happens with buildings when we demolish them, and it’s great to be able to share our knowledge and process with our customers.

“Now that our dad has handed the reins over to us, we hope to see an evolution of these trends, hopefully paving the way for future generations.”

[1] Dep. Agriculture, Water and the Environment: National Waste Report 2020

[2] As above.