Oamaru leads way in carton recycling

Not only is Oamaru home to the beautiful scenes of the Southern Alps, it also happens to be one of New Zealand’s most sustainable regions – recycling anything and everything.

The Waitaki Resource Recycling Park (WRRP) was the first in New Zealand to set up a collection centre for recycling liquid paper-based cartons and one-year on, it is seeing 200 cars a day dropping off waste material.

Whether it’s recovering old wood and turning it into penguin houses or taking paper-based food cartons that get turned into low-carbon building materials – the WRRP is on a mission to ensure nothing ends up in landfill.

WRRP diverted 2,400 tonne of recycling materials from landfill in the last financial year with only 300 tonnes sent to landfill; an incredible diversion rate of 88%.

Oamaru’s WRRP has paved the way for more than 30 other beverage carton recycling schemes across New Zealand, with more on the way.

WRRP Operations Manager Trish Hurley says the recycling park used to be discouraged by liquid paper-based beverage cartons as they weren’t recycled locally and disposed to landfill, but has now bonded in a partnership thanks to saveBOARD – an upcycling Hamilton-based company turning the cartons into high-performance, low-carbon building materials.

Trish, who has been working at the recycling park for 15 years, said she first met a Tetra Pak team member on a site-tour in the lower North Island where the two got speaking and agreed to do a beneficial trial with beverage cartons.  

“We did a trial and found a way to recycle their cartons, it gets picked up by freight trucks and delivered up to saveBOARD in Hamilton, where it’s completely recycled and turned into building materials,” said Trish.

“We have been working with Tetra Pak to recycle their beverage cartons for over a year now and we’re proud to be the first in the country,” said Trish.

“Waitaki is pioneering the way to reducing carbon-emissions by reducing waste to landfill and making recycling accessible for everyone.

“Next time you’re enjoying your plant-based coffee, it does not have to end up in landfills but could be used as a construction board for a house or commercial building.”

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