Anna Winneke, owner of The Salvage Yard in Castlemaine, is teaching the next generation about the benefits of salvaging old building materials.

Salvaged materials have a lower carbon footprint than newly manufactured and recycled materials by preventing harvesting, transporting and processing new trees. The trees saved also sequester carbon, another factor that prevents carbon from being released into our atmosphere

Ms Winneke said she and her staff are advocates of establishing salvage resource banks around the state. The environmental benefits of re-using building materials are too great to ignore.

“It’s not recycling but re-using resources. We’re trying to infiltrate this into everyday building practice,” Ms Winneke said.

“We partnered with some local demolishers who understand the benefits of salvaging.

“We are finding younger builders aren’t interested in salvaging and prefer to buy new, to cut time and costs; wasting an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and waste.

“We need to start educating them on how to salvage materials during their training. Perhaps having a training module on re-using building material, so they know how and aren’t afraid to use them.

“We know part of this fear is confusion between salvaged and recycled materials.

“Recycled material is salvaged material made and marketed into a new product, whereas salvaged material is used in its original form.

“Laws prevent people to be onsite during demolitions, which prevents people from saving these materials. They often end up at the tip or go through expensive energy recycling efforts.”

Recovering building materials could become part of Victoria’s circular economy plans, preventing unnecessary waste and reducing emissions. These plans would also contribute to Victoria’s goal to have net zero emissions by 2050. in one fell swoop.

For historical towns, like Bendigo and Castlemaine, these plans could provide new business and job opportunities while preserving antique building materials.

In Canada, the City of Vancouver introduced the Green Demolition by-law in 2014 to reduce construction and demolition waste. Since then over 10,000 tonnes of demolition waste has been successfully diverted.

Check out the Salvage Yard website, Facebook, and Instagram to find out more about their work.