Last week, food and beverage carton recycling collection founder Leisa de Klerk, major supporter Taste Nature Ltd managing director Clinton Chambers and collection co-ordinator Office Furniture Specialists owner Blair Camplin checked out the baled-up cartons before they were transported to the North Island for recycling.
Hamilton recycling firm saveBOARD take collected food and beverage cartons (often known by the brand name Tetra Paks) from across New Zealand and use compression and heat to turn them into wall board.
Dunedin leads the country as the largest collector of containers in New Zealand.
The 360 banana boxes full of cartons collected — each containing 200-plus flattened cartons — were compressed into two large bales by Oji Fibre Solutions in Green Island ready for transportation.
Ms de Klerk started the collection of food and beverage cartons for recycling in 2022, with the support of OneCoast, gathering cartons initially through 11 collection points in Dunedin and the Clutha District.
At present, there are three carton collection points in Dunedin — Taste Nature Ltd, the South Dunedin Community Network rooms and Rembrandt Coffee House.
After sending about 100 boxes of cartons to saveBOARD in Hamilton, and collecting a further 220 boxes which were stored at Cargill Enterprises, Ms de Klerk handed over the carton collection logistics to Office Furniture Specialists owners Blair and Nicky Camplin in May last year.
"I’m no longer directly involved with this recycling, but I continue to support it as a way to re-use these cartons, which are not accepted as part of kerbside household recycling," she said.
"It’s a very popular recycling project, as many people are keen to see this kind of packaging removed from landfill."
Mr Camplin said Office Furniture Specialists taking over the collection was a great way to learn more about the recycling process for the cartons, and to see how they could potentially be used in building and furniture applications.
So far, the compressed board could be used as a gib board alternative, in fencing or as ceiling tiles, and research was being done on furniture applications.
"People are actively pursuing what it can be used for, and that is exciting," Mr Camplin said.
Mr Chambers said Taste Nature had come on board with the food and beverage carton collection early on as it was "totally aligned with our values", and had collected the majority of the cartons recycled so far.
"For us, it is about making this scheme available to our customers and the community who want to do something about recycling these cartons and make the effort to do it," he said.
"It’s a testament to those efforts that the pile of cartons was 11cu m before it was compressed."
At present, about 10% of the food and beverage containers used in Dunedin were recycled, meaning there was plenty of scope for expansion.
"If all of them were recycled, it would remove 20 tonnes of these cartons from landfill," Mr Chambers said.
Nationally, the carton recycling scheme has been run by Tetra Pak, with companies operating in the food and beverage sector collaborating on a new Food and Beverage Carton Recycling Scheme, which will come into effect on February 1.
Preparing food and beverage cartons (often known by the brand name Tetra Paks) for recycling:
- Leave the plastic lid on — this melts during heating for recycling and forms the glue that binds the board together.
- Cut along the top and side of the carton to completely open it up.
- Rinse clean.
- Stored cartons can be taken to Taste Nature, 131 High St; South Dunedin Community Network rooms, 278a King Edward St; and Rembrandt Coffee House, 280 Moray Pl, for collection and recycling.