Significant growth and redevelopment in the apple industry has prompted some growers to get environmentally creative with the way they dispose of kilometres of plastic irrigation pipes.
New Zealand's largest organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand, pulled out 80 kilometres of irrigation pipes during winter and has teamed up with Aotearoa New Zealand Made to recycle it into black damp-proof film for the building Industry and black rubbish bags.
Bostock New Zealand Orchard waste coordinator Lisa Arnold said the initiative is a good way to give a new meaningful life to orchard waste.
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"This is plastic that would usually go to landfill, but we are making a conscious effort to design waste out of the business and transition from a linear economy to reduce our orchard waste and recycle wherever possible."
This year Bostock New Zealand has sent four 20-foot containers of plastic irrigation pipes to Aotearoa New Zealand Made for recycling.
"If the pipes were stretched out, they would cover around 80 kilometres - half the distance to the recycling station."
Arnold says as the apple industry is growing, a lot of old orchards are being removed and replanted, so the old pipes are coming out in large quantities.
"This has driven Bostock New Zealand to find a solution to deal with the old materials. The pipes are a waste material that we will see a lot of in the next few years, as many orchards around our region undergo redevelopment. It is great to have a sustainable option for disposing of this material, and we hope to encourage other Hawke's Bay growers to utilise this recycling solution," Arnold said.
Aotearoa New Zealand Made manager Kevin Joe said the product is chipped down and reprocessed into finished products.
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"The demand for this material is also growing as the building industry is requiring more and more building film as it expands. The more we can keep recycling and re-using the better. What is one business' trash becomes another business' well-used material," Joe says.
Bostock staff have made the process simple by rolling up the pipes for ease of transport.
Green Sky Recycling then collect it. Owner Darren Greene says it's a "win-win" for everyone involved.
"Aside from cost savings, the benefits are many; diversion from landfill, providing a good raw material that saves on using virgin materials and reduced carbon footprints, closing-the-loop, supporting circular economies and local businesses."