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Waste & Resources Management

GPT is committed to a 'closed loop' approach to resource use and minimising waste to landfill in all areas within the control of our Group, and to supporting and encouraging improvements in areas within our influence

  • Recycling rates improved from 29% to 43% in 2015
  • 5,215 tonnes of waste to landfill avoided in 2015 (compared to the 2005 baseline recycling rates)
  • In 2015, GPT completed the roll-out of new waste contracts that require more accurate reporting

Background and Policy

GPT recognises that resources are being consumed and waste is being generated at unsustainable rates, and as a property manager there is much that can be done to reduce these impacts.

As a property manager, the largest impacts relate to the way occupants’ waste is managed. Managing waste and resources responsibly will enable:

  • reduced costs, and exposure to rising costs, to our tenants and investors;
  • preparedness for emerging regulations and increasing community expectations; and
  • contributing towards a world that uses resources at rates that can be replenished and disposes of waste at rates that can be re-absorbed without harm.

Developing assets is also resource intensive by nature and has the potential to generate significant waste. GPT minimises development impacts by working with builders to:

  • undertake material selection sensitive to the environmental impacts;
  • maximise recovery from demolition works; and
  • minimise waste in the construction process.

GPT's Waste and Resource Management Policy contains our complete policy background and commitments.


Target Performance and progress
Operations: Achieve operational recycling rate for managed tenant waste of 50% in 2015 With a 43% recycling rate, the target was not achieved. Improvements in data validation during 2015 have excluded some previously reported recycling data.  However, assets that are early adopters of the new waste management process are seeing improving material recovery performance.

Over the past three years, GPT has undertaken a comprehensive and disruptive reform process in its approach to operational waste management. This includes a new approach to reporting where waste is tracked to better understand what happens to different waste items though the different processes.

Ultimately, GPT aims to achieve closed-loop resource use. This means that waste materials are recovered in a manner that enables them to re-enter the same production cycles and used for the same purpose . The quality of recycling, or the retention of value in the recycling process, needs to be considered to understand if the aim of closed-loop approach is being achieved.

To address this, GPT is adding a quality measure to waste reporting and targets. By the end of 2015, all waste contracts in GPT managed assets incorporated requirements for standardised quality measures. A number of GPT co-owned but non-managed assets also began to incorporate the quality measure in waste reporting.

Broadly, this GPT initiative is described as outcomes based reporting where recycling quantity and quality are reported. The quality is measured as different grades for the recovery outcomes where:

  • A-grade recovery meets the closed loop objective
  • B-grade recovery is for down-cycling items to lower value commodities
  • C-grade recovery is for processes that have a one-off end of life re-use.

The 2016 target is compared to the 2014 and 2015 results below:

  2014 result 2015 result 2016 target
A-grade recovery   25% 38%
B-grade recovery   4% 6%
C-grade recovery   14% 3%
Recycling rate 47% 43%
Combined recovery
Combined recovery

Note: Prior to 2015, grading (quality of outcome) information is not available. The best comparison to 2014 is summing each of the grades in the years 2015 onwards.

Operational Waste Management - Performance and Initiatives

GPT has improved its overall recycling rates for operational waste from 29% in 2005 to 43% in 2015. The 2015 result reflects a small decrease (4%) on the 2014 reported results and was below the target of 50%.

The shortfall in both cases was mostly as a result of excluding previously reported recycling figures that did not meet the new reporting standards.  It was not as a result of a reduction in the actual recycling outcomes from 2014 to 2015 operations.  In fact, those assets that were further progressed in the reform process showed considerable improvements.

In 2015, continuation of improved data validation processes resulted in the exclusion of some data that previously would have been reported as recycled. This tighter control of data has slightly masked the improvements in process with new contracts and recycling streams that lifted the amount of resource recovery.

GPT will continue improving data validation in 2016 by refining reporting regimes across the assets whereby the quality of the recycling will be reported as well as the quantity. The reporting requirement include:

  1. More accurate weights through site weigh-offs and validated site density measures
  2. Deducting contamination from recovery figures
  3. Grading the outcome of recovery processes against the closed loop goals

Grading of recycling outcomes

In GPT’s graded reporting, recovery processes that can occur repeatedly are considered to meet the closed loop objective and therefore reported as A-grade. Processes such as fibre and metals recovery, as well as food waste processing to a standard that produces a product with no end use restrictions, are considered A-grade.

B-grade recovery status will be applied to processes that may be described as downcycling. An example of downcycling is the use of mixed food grade plastics to produce a packaging, non food grade plastic. This does not meet the GPT closed loop objective, but avoids landfill disposal.

C-grade recovery will cover materials that are recovered in a process that only allows for restricted or one-off end uses. Organic growth medium (OGM) from a mixed source waste that is produced in an alternate waste treatment facility is an example of what will be reported as C-grade. This is because as it has restricted end uses such as mine site rehabilitation and it may only be allowable to apply the product once. This does not meet the GPT closed loop objective.

GPT has published a discussion paper on outcomes based reporting titled, “Taking the Rubbish out of Recycling Data”.  Click here to download the paper.

Recycling Rates

GPT acknowledges that the first strategy in avoiding sending materials to landfill is in the reduction of waste. Within its own control, for example, GPT has reduced paper consumption by over 70% in the past five years.  However, the majority of waste collected at GPT assets is from tenants and visitors so the focus of waste management programs is to maximise the quantity and quality of recycling.

The charts below track the recycling results of GPT portfolios across the past ten years.  Of interest is the splitting of the recycling data into grades from 2015 onwards.

When comparing different portfolio types, on average, the highest recycling rates are achieved in office assets. It can also be seen that the Office and Retail portfolio have experienced a drop in reported recycling rates in the last year. This drop in reported outcomes is driven by the adoption of outcomes-based reporting at GPT managed assets where contamination is now deducted from recycling figures and weights are more accurate.

As outcomes-based reporting is now approaching business-as-usual in the Retail portfolio improved decision making should drive recycling rates back up in 2016. However, there is further work to improve data integrity in the office portfolio which will likely see further declines in the reported recycling rates in office assets until 2017.

It is important to note that these changes were expected to initially push down reported recovery rates at assets. Recycling services were not decreased. Instead, there is a continued improvement in data integrity that better reflects the results.

The chart below shows a comparison of the recycling rates for the different portfolio types over the past decade.

For more detailed information about the performance of individual assets refer to the GPT Data Pack.

2015 Operational Waste Outcomes

The following table shows the breakdown of waste and recycled materials for 2015 with an explanation of the outcome grading.

Items Weight (tonnes) Explanation
Aluminium 31 Aluminium is recovered in mixed container bins and returned back into the same production cycles as the original product.  This is considered an A-grade outcome.
Co-mingled - no profile 970 This stream is still in transition and has not yet had the composition broken down into the recoverable materials which may include plastic, steel, aluminium and fibre products.  Co-mingled waste is collected in yellow mixed recycling bins and conservatively reported as B-grade outcomes to until the composition profiling is completed.
Energy recovery 115 Waste cooking oil is turned into biodiesel.  It is considered an A-grade outcome as the source of cooking oil is biomass and therefore the process is using a renewable fuel.
E-Waste 26 Combination of electrical devices ranging from computer and printer cartridges through to lamps.  Depending on the process, items can be recovered as A-grade (closed loop) or B-grade (downcycling).  Whilst the weight of E-Waste is only a small part of the total waste, GPT believes it is important to manage tightly and report transparently as much of the E-Waste contains components that can be toxic to people and the environment.
Ferrous metals 151 Ferrous metals are recovered in both mixed container recycling bins as well as dedicate steel bins on some sites.  This material can go back into producing similar steel products and be considered A-grade recovery.
Fibre recovery 7,019 Paper and cardboard products are made from fibre which is recovered to make further paper and cardboard products.  This is considered A-grade recovery.
Glass 675 Glass is mostly recovered through mixed recycling streams, although in some cases it is recovered in separate bins.  When the recycled glass goes back into making bottle etc, this is considered an A-grade result.  However, often facilities aren’t able to separate glass colours cost effectively and so the glass is crushed and added to road base which is considered a B-grade result.
Landfill 21,743 All waste going to landfill is reported this way, including contamination deducted from material recovery streams.
Organics 2,808 When source separated and sent to an appropriate facility, organic waste (mostly food waste) can be turned into products that can continually be added to soil for improved food production.  This is considered an A-grade outcome.  When organics are recycled through mixed waste processes, they generally have a level of contamination which leads to a restriction of only being allowed to be applied once to restricted sites such as mine rehabilitation sites.  In these case it is considered a C-grade outcome.
Other recyclables 4,288 This category is generally used for reports from assets that not managed by GPT and are not providing a breakdown of the recycling.  To be conservative, this is considered a C-grade outcome.  GPT is working with its external managers to improve this information.
Plastic - containers 158 These are the plastic bottles and containers that are generally disposed of in the yellow recycling bins. Whilst this can be returned to the same production cycles which would be considered an A-grade outcome, many facilities don’t directly separate the different types of plastics so it is usually considered a B-grade outcome. This is because there is a risk of a lower grade plastic being produced if these plastics are mixed in their next production cycle.
Plastic - Hard 22 This is mostly expanded polystyrene which is used in the production of further polystyrene products – an A-grade outcome.
Plastic - soft 63 When soft plastics are separated and returned to appropriate facilities, they can be turned back into similar products which is considered an A-grade outcome.  However where this can not be demonstrated, they are assumed to enter a mixed plastics recovery process and achieve a downcycling or B-grade outcome.
Total 38,067  

Hazardous Waste

GPT maintains a rigorous site management system designed to avoid generation of hazardous waste. Asbestos registers are maintained at each site with well developed management protocols.

Site Fit Out Guides and House Rules control the use of chemicals on site by tenants and contractors.

Development Waste

In general, GPT does not have operational control of waste from development sites. However, GPT does influence how contractors and suppliers manage waste through its Development Guidelines and Plans. These Guidelines and Plans include requirements for material selection and waste management.

For example: the Wollongong Central development commenced in early 2012. By the end of 2014

96% of construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfill. In addition to construction waste, a large volume of material has been excavated and removed from the site. In total 70,000 m3 of rock has been removed and transported to Port Kembla for use in the outer harbour expansion.

Outcomes-based reporting

In adopting the principle, “What is measured, is managed”, it is important that the measures truly inform about progress toward the objective and therefore enhance decision making. 

GPT has developed and implemented more accurate and informative measures which are collectively referred to as outcomes-based reporting. Put simply, this style of reporting provides an understanding of the final destination (the outcome) of waste items in GPT asset instead of just providing information about which bin (the input) that item waste was placed in.

Further detail about this approach can be reviewed in the attached paper, 'Taking the rubbish out of recycling data - a discussion paper about an outcomes-based reporting approach to waste management', authored by Steve Ford, GPT’s National Manager for Energy and Environment.

Click here to download the report.


Better Buildings Partnership – Sydney

GPT has taken a leading role in the Better Building Partnership Technical Working Group on Waste. GPT’s new outcomes-based reporting system has been openly shared with counterparts at other property companies while we actively lobby for increased transparency, improved accuracy and additional qualitative information in waste and recycling life-cycle outcomes.

NABERS – Waste Manager

GPT has developed and implemented the leading working example of outcomes-based reporting in waste management.  To ensure that the processes and learnings can be more widely adopted, GPT has openly shared its intellectual property with the Office of Environment and Heritage NABERS Waste team.  GPT also sits on the NABERS Waste Manager Technical Working Group to assist in final development of the platform and tools.

Challenges and Outlook

The ability to optimise material recovery quantity and quality depends heavily on the waste management facilities available in the proximity of each asset and tenant processes and behaviours.

As GPT has been the leading adopter of outcomes-based reporting, there have been challenges in working with waste contractors to change their processes.  Working with these contractors to improve their understanding of GPT’s systems and objectives is resulting in a growing capacity to find solutions for the upstream tenant processes and behaviours and well as the downstream processing facilities to achieve the best outcomes.

Continued focus on education and engage is resulting in improved tenants tenant processes and behaviours. For this GPT is seeing that best practice waste treatment processes are becoming increasingly commercially viable once the product they receive has lower contamination and consistent tonnages. Waste composition analysis has shown that it is possible to achieve the 98% closed-loop recovery objective and aforementioned positive feedback loop will provide the pathway forward in the coming years to move towards the target.

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Environment Data Pack

For detailed statistics around GPT's Sustainability Reporting Download the Environment Data Pack.

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