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Unitec’s Environmental Solutions Research Centre collaborates with industry for the first Plastics Innovation Fund Project

  • Marley plastic piping
    The initiative will see more plastic piping recovered from the waste stream

Unitec’s Environmental Solutions Research Centre is working with Aliaxis New Zealand companies, Marley and RX Plastics, and Waste Management New Zealand (WMNZ) to amplify the message of recycling throughout the construction industry, as well as working together on practical solutions to minimise plastic waste going to landfill in the Construction and Demolition industry.

Supported by a grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s $50 million Plastics Innovation Fund to Marley NZ, the project was one of four announced on 23 September by Minister for the Environment David Parker.

“I am immensely proud of the hardworking ESRC team for securing this opportunity to work with great partners like Marley and WMNZ produce highly impactful research for Aotearoa and its communities,” says Dr Terri-Ann Berry, Director of the ESRC, (pictured right with Minister for the Environment David Parker.)

With Marley’s position as a well-known and respected supplier to the industry, and the knowledge and passion of the Unitec ESRC team, this project will be a significant step forward to reduce plastic waste.”

ESRC’s role in the project involves studying how to identify and quantify the plastic waste stream produced from residential, commercial and infrastructure construction sites, generated from various stages of construction in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Plastics Innovation Fund (PIF) will contribute $4.46m to the initiative (35.66% of the overall project investment). This project is one of the first recipients of this ground-breaking new fund and includes:

• Investing in new plastic recycling facilities across New Zealand which will sort, wash and shred PVC and HDPE plastic from construction and demolition, commercial and industrial sources

• Establishing a network of metropolitan and regional PVC and HDPE collection services in partnership with Waste Management New Zealand

• Research by Unitec ESRC and BRANZ into practical solutions to minimise plastic construction waste and help to raise awareness of plastic recycling.

The collected plastic will then be used at Aliaxis New Zealand’s sites to manufacture the next generation of PVC and HDPE piping systems used in building, infrastructure and agriculture projects across NZ, completing the loop and reducing our overall plastic resin importation.

The project supports all five desired outcomes for the PIF – minimising plastic waste, supporting circular solutions, protecting the environment from harm, supporting the reduction of imported plastic and improving the behaviour of people and businesses.

The first Aliaxis/Marley facilities are expected to be operational by 2023 with all sites completed by 2027.

About the Plastics Innovation Fund

The purpose of Te Tahua Pūtea mō te Kirihou Auaha –The Plastics Innovation Fund supports projects that will minimise plastic waste and its harm on the environment. We aim to invest in projects that find ways to use less plastic and make what we do use reusable or recyclable. More information about the fund can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

About Unitec’s Environmental Solutions Research Centre