Material from soft plastic recycling bins, which are at most supermarkets, has been sitting in storage since about September after the Australian company that was accepting it became inundated with too much plastic.
But the Packaging Forum, which runs the Love NZ Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme, has now partnered with new company Future Post to convert some of the stockpile into fence posts.
Future Post was founded earlier this year by farmer Jerome Wenzlick who got the idea while struggling to build a fence on an old rubbish dump site.
His wooden fenceposts kept breaking but hey weren’t hitting rocks, they were hitting plastic waste in the ground.
Future Post account manager Irene Ground said they were able to use plastics to create a fence post that was better for the environment, while also reducing the amount of plastic sent to landfill.
A standard post could be made out of 208 milk bottles, or about 1700 single use plastic bags, she said.
The final post would be about 10kg of solid plastic, expected to last about 50 years.
The company can recycle single-use plastic bags, soft plastics, and milk bottles by processing them in to a ground. The blends are UV stabilised and extruded into a post.
Future Post has also partnered with Fonterra to use old Anchor bottles. Last year the two worked on recycling milk bottles into shampoo, conditioner and body lotion bottles for Sky City hotels.
Wenzlick said the partnership gave Future Post access to a steady supply of milk bottles and a customer base of 10,000 farmers in the cooperative.
Lyn Mayes, from The Packaging Forum, said they hoped local and central Government would buy the fence posts whenever they were fencing farms, conservation land, parks or housing developments.
“There is no value in post-consumer soft plastics unless we create a value chain and we invest in it.”
By creating demand for posts made from waste plastic, they could supply Future Post with more and more soft plastic waste, Mayes said.
The Packaging Forum would continue looking for more partners to widen the scope for recycling and soft plastics, she said.