saveBOARD is a New Zealand start-up company that has secured the Asia Pacific technology rights to a proven US technology that converts packaging waste such as beverage cartons, soft plastics and coffee cups into low carbon construction board that can be used instead of plywood, particle board and plaster board.
saveBOARD Founder and CEO Paul Charteris approached Wright Communications in early 2021 to help publicly announce the start-up company would be bringing its waste-to-construction-board technology to New Zealand. saveBOARD had ordered a production line from the US that would be set up in a factory in Te Rapa near Hamilton scheduled to open later in 2021.
New Zealand produces about 250,000 tonnes of packaging waste a year that could be used by saveBOARD. saveBOARD would process 4,000 tonnes initially – one third of the plant’s capacity – and ultimately process up to 8% of the usable waste.
The company has two sets of customers. The “front end” is the supply of packaging waste, which initially came from food and beverage companies, such as Fonterra and Frucor, who pay saveBOARD to take their waste. The “back end” is corporates, building companies and building material specifiers such as architects.
Paul asked Wright Communications how we could help take the business from a start-up to a scaled-up business over multiple countries in the next few years, with plans to open plants in Australia and ultimately Asia. To start with Paul was keen for media coverage as a reference point for in-depth conversations with building companies and specifiers.
The Wright Approach
Our proposal set out three phases: familiarisation research to gain an in-depth understanding of saveBOARD’s business ecosystem; strategy development setting out objectives, key messages to target audiences, strategies and tactics; and implementation of the above.
We summarised the main stakeholder groups: Material suppliers including the food and beverage companies; Construction companies – some of which own or have strong relationships with competing construction board suppliers; and Specifiers including architects and product directories.
Our first task was to publicly announce saveBOARD’s plans to set up in New Zealand. The news media lapped up the news release – which included comments from saveBOARD’s partners Freightways, Tetra Pak and Closed Loop – and images of the stunning Zero Waste Bistro in New York, a concept restaurant with saveBOARD-style décor.
To build interest in the construction sector and among architects we then worked with saveBOARD on sponsored content in NZ Construction News and ArchiPro as well as writing a feature story in Real Estate mag ahead of the opening of the Hamilton plant in November.
In August 2021 we collaborated with saveBOARD partners Tetra Pak and Closed to announce Australian Federal and New South Wales State Government funding towards building a plant near Sydney.
The launch announcement in March 2021 appeared in Stuff, TVNZ Online, Building Today, Architecture Now and Paul was interviewed on Magic Radio. The announcement set the scene for future media interest and coverage, with a TVNZ Seven Sharp interview request put on hold until the Te Rapa factory was opened. We wrote saveBOARD’s LinkedIn post that received 10,000 views when it was shared by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.
An appearance on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp in April 2022 during the gib shortage really got the new company rolling. “It definitely increased sales, but the biggest benefit was exposure,” says Paul. “As with all new companies the marketing budget isn’t the biggest. Going on Seven Sharp was pretty big for us.” The next day Paul, with help from a saveBOARD employee, began answering an avalanche of 3,000 enquiries that came in over just 24 hours.
The Australian New South Wales plant funding announcement in August 2021 appeared in seven Australian trade magazines and Paul was interviewed on AusBiz television. When the NSW plant was officially opened in February 2023 Wright Communications liaised closely with Tetra Pak’s Australian communications team and PR consultancy. The launch was covered by the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times, Seven News, three radio stations and 15 trade publications in Australia and Stuff and Waikato Herald in New Zealand.
The media publicity we have generated, leveraged through social media, has helped to attract the interest and support of New Zealand’s biggest home builder, Government-owned Kainga Ora, Australia’s biggest supermarket chain, Woolworths along with building company Naylor Love, architects Warren Mahoney and KFC Australia. saveBOARD’s success hinges on companies like these specifying, buying and using saveBOARD.
It has been a pleasure helping Paul Charteris achieve his vision of diverting packaging waste from landfill and converting it into a sustainable building material, and we look forward to continuing to supporting saveBOARD as it opens plants in Melbourne and Brisbane and extends further into Asia Pacific.