Innovative environmental packaging solutions showcased at industry awards

Innovative environmental packaging solutions showcased at industry awards

We’re far from perfect when it comes to disposing of packaging responsibly. Every New Zealander consumes about 36 kg of plastic packaging per year, with only 8.64 kg of that being recycled. The bi-annual Environmental Packaging Awards seek to spin a positive light on packaging by celebrating companies and individuals who champion environmental issues and packaging product stewardship. Among this year's winners were Resene's Karen Warman for her innovative Paintwise programme and a corrugated box design by a Massey University student.

Taking home the Packaging Council of New Zealand Supreme Award, which recognises the greatest contribution towards environmental excellence, was The Environmental Education for Resource Sustainability Trust (EERST) for its Paper4Trees programme. 

The community waste minimisation educational programme rewards schools that recycle paper and cardboard by giving them native trees. In the 10 years since the scheme has been running, more than 2700 schools and pre-schools have participated, 46,982 trees have been planted, 11,745 tonnes of paper and cardboard have been recycled and 93,964m3 of landfill space saved. 

The programme also received the Cadbury Community Education Programme Award. The programme was cited as an outstanding example of a waste minimisation education programme that has delivered compelling metrics of waste reduction. 

The Fonterra Schools Educational Programme Award went to Waste Education Services for its waste minimisation programme delivered to all schools in the Nelson/Tasman region. The first school to take up and achieve the zero waste challenge, Broadgreen Intermediate School, will be rewarded with a $1000 to spend on environmental initiatives. 

Elsewhere, Convex Plastics received The Foodstuffs Packaging Design Award for its GreenSACK compostable wheelie bin liners that help reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill. 

The was picked up by Sutton Group Award for Supply Chain Influence on Packaging Systems Progressive Enterprises Ltd & CHEP NZ for their shipping and display supermarket produce crate. The cost effective, reusable, foldable crate provides improvement in transport efficiency and product protection. Introduced in 2008 with an initial pool of 480,000 crates, demand is now approaching 7,000,000 across produce suppliers. 

Supporting the up and comers in New Zealand, the Scion Award for Conceptual Design by a Tertiary Student went to Michelle Power. The Massey University picked up the award for her corrugated box that can custom fit all requirements. The judges considered the design to be a clever concept that would simplify small businesses' packaging needs and had the potential to be highly commercial. 

Two Lion Awards for employees who have championed environmental issues and driven change were also dished out. They went to Karen Warman of Resene and Spring Humphreys of Fonterra. 

Warman spearheaded Resene’s PaintWise programme that recycles or disposes of unwanted paint and paint tins. The idea was born out of a customer complaint ten years ago. A lady wanted to dispose of her empty paint can but the council wouldn’t take it even though it was recyclable. Warman and her team constructed a programme that would recycle paint containers, find uses for waste paint and plastic packaging. The Paintwise programme launched in 2004 and was nationwide by mid 2007. In 2011 the programme reached quite the milestone with over one million packs returned.
In the last seven years, the Resene PaintWise service has collected over one million paint containers; recycled over 200,000kgs of steel and 100,000 litres of paint has been donated to community groups – much of which was used to cover graffiti. 

A couple of months back, the programme earned accreditation as a product stewardship scheme — the first accreditation for a paint recycling programme and only the sixth product stewardship scheme accredited by environment minister Nick Smith. Products under the scheme are only accredited after they have been thoroughly assessed to ensure reductions in environmental harm have been met.
While the Resene PaintWise concept was originally designed to cater for just Resene paint, it has accepted all brands of paint since launch. 

The second winner of the Lion Award, Spring Humphreys, was seconded away from his operational role at Fonterra in 2003 to head up a new environmental initiative. With dairy farming obviously not renowned for its environmental record, Humphreys aim was to minimise, if not eliminate, waste.
Key initiatives were to maximise recycling, maximise transport efficiencies, minimise waste sent to landfill and provide equipment that was health, safety and hygiene compliant.

The programme which was initially trialled at five sites around New Zealand has emerged as a model of best practice and eco-efficiency now being implemented across 136 of Fonterra’s sites, stores and offices.

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