“Wheelie” Closing The Loop in Christchurch
In March this year, the largest single environmental packaging project in New Zealand history was completed as the culmination of a very cohesive and successful partnership between three very different organisations: a giant waste collection conglomerate, one of NZ’s largest City Councils and a newly formed joint venture plastics manufacturing company. SULO-Talbot in association with its partners in this venture has been highly commended for its part in “Wheelie Closing the Loop” in Christchurch.
The object of the collaboration was to target a 34% reduction in land fill volumes from the Christchurch metropolitan area, by the manufacture, assembly, and distribution of around 458,000 mobile garbage bins. In only 6 months from the time a firm order was placed, the last Christchurch residence received its three, size-specific bins. The project was the biggest single roll-out of resource recovery bins ever in Australia or New Zealand and gave rate payers some capacity to down- or up-size their bin.
The mobile garbage bins (“MGB’s”) were manufactured in a state of the art production facility in Auckland, set up to service the local New Zealand market by two very different plastics companies working together via a Joint Venture company, Sulo Talbot Ltd. The facility boasts multi million dollar, robot-equipped, giant injection moulding machines and sophisticated testing equipment. The two partners in the venture were Sulo MGB Australia Pty Ltd (Australia’s largest producer of MGB’s, a licensee of the giant SULO GMBH - an international environmental management systems company - and a multiple environmental award winner across the Tasman; and Talbot Plastics Ltd, New Zealand’s most awarded technical injection moulding company. The factory began operation on 1 August 2008, and worked 7 days a week, 24 hours per day (including most public holidays) to churn out AS4123 certified MGB’s of three sizes. Between October and March 2009, the company employed a team of up to 80 people in Christchurch, and a fleet of up to 21 trucks, to assemble and deliver each of the three bins to every Christchurch rate payer, with all transactions recorded on a sophisticated data base system which could be shared with the three parties collaborating in the project.
The raw materials for the MGB’s were mostly sourced from Australia and Thailand, but maximum use was made of recycled local raw material (the intention was to use up to 1,000 tonnes of recycled raw material amongst the 4,500 tonnes of materials processed for the contract, but actual usage fell well short of this due to difficulties sourcing enough material with the right polymeric make-up). In tandem with the project, and on-going, an R & D project was launched to polymer-modify reground milk bottles to make them suitable raw material for MGB manufacture.
Sulo-Talbot’s Business Development Manager, Karen Murray says they are proud to have been involved in this highly successful commercial collaboration which has used substantial quantities of recycled material, has provided employment and revenue for local New Zealand communities and will see an end result of greater than 34% saving in land fill volumes from Christchurch City. Pictured left: Karen Murray accepts SULO Talbot's award from Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment and Sponsor George Adams, Managing Director of Coca-Cola Amatil.