Reducing waste and its environmental impact are the main drivers behind WEL Networks and Gyro Plastics' sustainable initiative to recycle network pillars that are no longer in service.

WEL is the first electricity distributor to partner with Gyro Plastics as part of its Product Stewardship Programme that's aimed at increasing the amount of product collected - diverted from landfill - recycled and reused as recycled raw material.

Since the initiative started in November 150 pillars have been recycled.

As part of WEL's end of job process, once the pillars are removed from the network, any metal or brass is removed, they are rinsed with water and placed into a cage.

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Once the cage is full, with about 60 pillars, it's sent to Gyro Plastics in Feilding.

The cage is refilled with WEL's pillar replacement order before it's sent back to WEL's Hamilton premises.

"Sustainability is a company-wide focus for WEL and we're always looking at what we can do to improve," says group manager procurement Alison Barrow.

"The cage goes down full and comes back full. It's been very good and we've had a lot of positive feedback. By diverting our pillars from landfill and working with Gyro Plastics, we're supporting the sale, responsible and sustainable production of infrastructure plastic solutions," Barrow says.

The recycling process starts once Gyro Plastics receive the pillars. Once the process is complete, recycled and repurposed raw materials and components are re-introduced into the manufacturing and assembly process.

"Our product designs allow for a variation in plastic properties giving us the ability to use recycled plastic powder interchangeably with virgin plastic. Our recycled plastic powder is used in any manufacturing where an in-ground item would be traditionally manufactured in black virgin plastic.

"Within our premium range of pillars which are used by WEL, this typically means that bases (as opposed to lids) can be made from recycled plastic powder.

"Diversion from landfill is our immediate goal. With further uptake from the electricity industry, greater resource use, economic and energy savings will be gained," says Gyro Plastics managing director Trudi Duncan.

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