School children enjoying an office made from recycled materials.

Ben Dalton and Will Sims of Auckland’s Westlake Boys High School, along with their friends, built their own bespoke sports office while their school gymnasium was being renovated, using recycled waste in an attempt to help reduce the amount of construction waste that ends up in landfills.

Students outside recycled office.

According to Auckland Council construction and industrial waste makes up about 85 per cent of the city’s landfill. The students used the waste reallocation app CivilShare, which works like Trade Me, but solely for construction waste, to source their building materials. Hundreds of hours over a period of six months including school holidays was spent by the boys on the project, which was led by their distance running coach.

Sims said none of the parents thought it would turn out as well as it had.

“It taught me basic DIY skills and that if you mess up you can always improve,” Sims said.

“This was the biggest thing I’ve ever worked on and it was really cool to see it all finished.”

School office made of recycled materials.

Civil Share was created Regan Burke and his brother about two years ago. Burke invested $80,000 and extended his personal mortgage to fund the development of the app.

Directors of Civil Share NZ

He also runs his own construction company and wanted to create an app that would help deal with the industry’s waste issue. Before Civil Share his company spent about $100,000 a year throwing out excess treated timber, Burke said.

“If people bought the extra timber that $100,000 disposal cost could turn into a $20,000 profit for us,”

In 2018 Auckland council invested $50,000 into Civil Share through its Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund. The council set up the fund in September 2017 to support businesses finding ways to reduce waste and help with its goal to become a zero-waste city by 2040.

Despite no marketing or advertising the free app had grown to about 1400 users through word of mouth, and since the council’s funding, Civil Share has been receiving more attention from bigger construction companies. The Burkes hope next year will be a big year for the business, as they look to expand the features on the app, and find ways to make the venture profitable.