Don't Fence Me In!
Recycling its plastic waste has long presented a conundrum for Hill Laboratories. Every day it receives hundreds of samples from farms, food producers, and the like, for testing and analysis. Each sample arrives typically in a plastic bottle or bag. Up until now, there hasn’t been a way to sustainably dispose of these containers due to recyclers’ concerns about potential chemical and biological contamination.
“Because of this, the only option was to send the containers to landfill - a very unattractive outcome for an environmental laboratory on a number of different levels,” Graham Corban, Key Account Manager – Environmental, Hill Laboratories, says.
Enter Future Post, an innovative NZ company that has finally provided Hill Labs a more sustainable solution. Earlier this year Future Post began collecting the labs’ used sampling containers for processing at its Waiuku plant, turning them into a range of plastic fence posts.
Future Post was founded in 2017 by Jerome Wenzlick, who wanted to see if plastic waste could be made into something useful, like fencing, instead of being buried in the ground. Powered by seed funding from Callaghan Innovation and local ingenuity, Future Post designed and built their own machines to make the posts, and in 2019 won the top Agricultural Innovation award at the National Field Days.
Each month Hill Laboratories supplies Future Post with around 10,000 bottles and 10,000 bags, enabling the diversion of more than 5 tonnes of plastic waste per annum from landfill (excluding containers that have been used to sample effluent or trade wastes).
Future Post also collects hundreds of tonnes of plastic waste from other organisations and has forged relationships with several large plastic producers, such as Fonterra, and its Anchor Milk brand.
Future Post says its plastic posts outperform traditional fence posts in strength, durability, stability, and ease of installation, are safer for livestock and do not get chewed by animals. The posts are water, frost, insect, and fungi resistant, and they do not split, crack or rot.
They can be used in the place of copper, chromium, and arsenic-treated fence posts, reducing heavy metal soil contamination, and BioGro organic certified producers can also use them. The posts are 100% recyclable at the end of their expected 50+ year lifetime.
“This is an excellent environmental solution for businesses such as Hill Laboratories, who have not had success with previous recycling options,” Graham says.
Published in the official Wasteminz Magazine, Revolve - October Edition.