“Refining yesterday’s resource for tomorrow’s need”

Environmental Sustainability

One of the benefits of products made from thermoplastic resins is that they can be recycled and reused many times. This is a very efficient use of the energy used to produce them.

Comspec plays a key role in the product lifecycle by providing recovery and recycling for reuse as end of life options.

In 2009 New Zealand plastics manufacturers sent less than 1% of their total industrial plastic waste to landfill. All other plastic waste was recycled, by organisations such as Comspec.

Only 24% of domestic plastic packaging however, was recovered, as a percentage of consumption. This post consumer waste is one of the targets of the governments Waste Minimisation legislation and Comspec is leading the way to improve this figure by installing the new wash plant. Spring Humphreys, Fonterra’s Eco-Efficiency Manager commented;

"Comspec’s new wash plant is a great example of New Zealand’s plastics recycling industry resolve to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits to the wider community.”

The Comspec project is an excellent example of product stewardship bringing together milk producers with local South Island councils and recycling operators to provide a local solution to recycling milk bottles, and creating a cost effective recycled resin suitable for many applications within New Zealand’s plastics manufacturers. They have created a closed loop system which is unique to the industry.

Whilst milk bottles are some of the most commonly collected plastic materials from kerbside collection, they have tended to be sent to Asia to be recycled. Comspecs directors have long held a concern about sending plastics off shore rather than recycling locally and believe that the environment is best served by reuse within New Zealand.

“The more we recycle locally, the more we reduce our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Using recycled HDPE bottles replaces the need to use virgin plastic and saves an average of one tonne of C02 for every tonne of plastic recycled.” Tom Tompson, Director

Comspec has developed a wash facility which produces high quality plastic feedstock from household milk bottles. The plant can also be used for janitorial products. There are opportunities to extend the facility to process other types of plastic resins here in New Zealand rather than overseas. The long term view of the Comspec team is that all plastics are a valuable resource that should be mined from the waste stream to create sustainable recycled resins for use within many applications within agricultural and industrial plastics manufacturing. With joint partnerships between Brand owners, Councils, Recyclers, and the Plastics Industry, over-all product stewardship of Plastic Packaging is becoming an achievable target.