By using mushrooms, sugar cane and other waste products for printing, one local packaging company is attempting to change its ways

While many Kiwis spent July drying out their livers, Auckland production specialists Production Partners dived head first into ‘Plastic Free July’. Lee Shaw explains how printing is changing for the better, both in terms of new technology and reduced environmental impact. 

It’s a worldwide initiative aimed at reducing the amount of plastic we produce and throw away. And that’s a big problem to solve. According to Recycling New Zealand, we chuck out 352,000 tonnes of “packaging” every year. To put that into context, it’s more or less the combined weight of every man, woman, child and cat in the North Island. It’s quite a lot. So Lee Shaw and the team at Production Partners took a good hard look at their packaging-focused business to see what they could do to change it.

Film production courtesy of Tristram Clayton

“It’s not just about using environmentally friendly materials, it’s about best options for the best outcomes," he says. "There will always be a need for packaging. It’s just about educating clients on a better option.”

His team is exploring innovations using mushroom packaging, sugar cane packaging, recycled byproducts and various other different ways to make stuff look good using alternative materials. 

"But it's more complicated than this. Does it compost well? Can we design a second life use? Can it be manufactured economically? There is no silver bullet or ‘ultimate solution’  yet – but we’re always keen to find the best solution for the job." 

As a bit of fun to tell this story through July, Production Partners completely rebranded as 'Reduction Partners'. But it’s far more of a long-term passion for Shaw.

“Packaging is a huge part of our business,” says Lee. “And that makes us part of the problem. So we’re doing everything we can to help clients make their products look a million dollars without defaulting to plastic and other rubbish that just gets thrown away."

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