Fletcher subsidiary Iplex has carried out a successful trial at its Palmerston North manufacturing site and has identified the potential to use more than four million plastic bottles per year.
The initiative comes at a time when the impact of China limiting plastic imports is starting to be felt within the recycling industry.
Iplex Palmerston North manufacturing manager Vaughn Bedser said: “Iplex had been looking for ways to integrate recycled material into its manufacturing and decided to look into recycled polyethylene after one of our people spoke with local supplier Aotearoa NZ Made.”
Aotearoa NZ Made is a major recycler of milk, cleaning and cosmetic product bottles is currently the only plastic recycler and manufacturer in the lower North Island. Like drainage pipes, these bottles are made from polyethylene (PE) plastic.
The two local companies made a deal – Iplex would commit to a purchase 25t per month of the recycled PE and work out how to incorporate it into its product line, if supply could be sustained.
In a three-month trial, Iplex worked out how to combine the PE into one of its bestselling products – a land drainage pipe commonly used on farms – without compromising the durability or strength of the product.
“Our trial using recycled plastic was a huge success,” said Bedser. “Our technician determined how to carefully combine the right amount of recycled PE into the line without any impact on pipe quality. We will be continuing to use recycled plastic for the foreseeable future. Through using at least 25 tonnes of recycled PE each month, it will reduce the production of new plastic, and recycle more than four million plastic bottles in the space of a year.
“We’re really pleased our initiative can make a difference to the growing problem of plastic waste in New Zealand,” says Vaughn.