A former Havelock North High School student is helping the fisheries industry walk the talk when it comes to sustainability, developing a prototype alternative to polystyrene packaging bins.
Eighteen-year-old Sam Wixon has been hard at work for the past two years developing a sustainable alternative as part of his school business programme.
"My dad was working on a cardboard sleeve to go around some polystyrene and we were talking about how New Zealand talks about its sustainable fishing industry.
"And yet we're packing all of our export fish into polystyrene which is one of the most damaging items you can use."
The first step for Wixon was researching what existing alternatives were out there.
A "strong Ngāi Tahu boy", he also wanted to bring in his family history to the project.
"I looked back at the ways my tīpuna used to preserve the goods, the mutton birds, they used to trade and what we used in the past before plastic."
The result is a 3D printed bin with a biodegradable polymer filament, modelled of the bull kelp used to preserve mutton birds.
"They traditionally used a bag made of bull kelp," Wixon explained.
"It has a natural fluted cell structure on the inside which creates air pockets."
He said the idea behind the bins was to take polystyrene out of circulation - being made from a biodegradable material they could also be industrially composted.
"With something completely new, going through the process of designing, and prototyping has been really challenging."
Equally challenging, has been finding time to fit in other commitments like finishing school and various extracurricular activities.
The next challenge will be getting the prototype to the manufacturing stage and producing it en masse, he said.
Wixon was recently presented with the National Excellence Award for Rangatahi Entrepreneurship and HSBC Award for Environmental Sustainability by the Young Enterprise Trust.
He has also been appointed as a youth trustee to the Young Enterprise Trust Board, in the hope of helping other young people with their ideas.
He said he was incredibly grateful to the trust for the support and assistance they had provided.
"It's been so influential and such an amazing opportunity."
Having finished his last year of high school, Wixon will be headed to Victoria University in Wellington to study a bachelor of design innovation, majoring in social innovation.
"It's quite a new course and links into the side of developing solutions and systems and services for social issues."