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Fonterra Says Higher Waste Charges Good For Nz's Sustainability Agenda

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand's largest company, Fonterra Co-operative Group, today welcomed the Government's new waste legislation as a positive step towards driving a reduction in waste sent to landfill.

"This is good for the sustainability agenda and the long-term competitive advantage of New Zealand businesses," said Fonterra's Eco-Efficiency Manager, Spring Humphreys. "Our customers and consumers globally are demanding positive change. We need to keep up the momentum in this area."

Mr Humphreys said that increasing the cost of producing waste in New Zealand would reward businesses making improvements, and raise costs for those that maintained or increased their quantity of waste sent to landfill.

Fonterra has had a re-cycle and re-use programme in place since 2003, and has diverted over 18,000 tonnes of paper, cardboard and plastic, as well as a huge amount of organic waste away from landfill over the past five years. These savings are equivalent to 226,000 trees and 7450 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Over the last 12 months Fonterra has recycled and re-used 90 per cent of its total waste.

"Sustainability is at the heart of our business, and this new legislation will provide an even greater incentive for us to reduce our waste.

"While we still have some work to do in many areas of our business, through our recycle and re-use programme we've lessened our impact on the environment and achieved significant cost savings for waste sent to landfill, and will continue to do so."

Mr Humphreys says the savings achieved to date by Fonterra would not have been possible without the "huge commitment to our co-operative's sustainability goals, from our people right across the business, who have individually and collectively championed the effort to reduce waste."

"The 90 per cent target for 2009 looked like a huge challenge when we set out on our recycle and re-use drive in 2003." But Mr Humphreys says by working closely with the site champion network as well as waste and recycling services they created a positive culture of recycling and waste reduction.

The savings were achieved through Fonterra's Eco-Efficiency programme, which focuses on reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing through redesigning operational systems, re-using non-recyclable materials and recycling. Each of Fonterra's New Zealand manufacturing sites has an 'Eco-Efficiency' champion, who runs the programme for their site, identifying waste streams for potential elimination or reduction.

"For Fonterra to become a truly sustainable co-operative we had to make it part of the way we work given the current global climate. Our Eco-Efficiency programme makes economic and commercial sense as resources are used, or reused, more efficiently and less is spent on waste transport and landfill charges. It also makes good environmental sense in terms of waste and emissions reduction.

"This will become increasingly important when New Zealand adopts its Emissions Trading Scheme, because the fewer resources we use, the less emissions we create, and the less costs we'll be facing - which, at the end of the day is good for our bottom-line, and the returns to our farmer-shareholders."

"All of this work we are doing, whether we're looking at ways to reduce our energy or waste, is all about being more efficient and continually looking at ways we can do things better."

Examples of waste reduction initiatives from Fonterra's Eco-Efficiency programme include:

Recycling Anchor Milk Bottles from Fonterra's Takanini plant into plastic slip sheets, which are then used to line pallets for Fonterra's export products. Once exported, the slip sheets are recycled at their destination and pallets re-used in New Zealand. This saves over 150 tonnes of virgin plastic each year whilst enabling all of the wooden pallets to be reused.

Soiled plastic from milk powder and cheese bags is now being recycled locally into plastic cable reels, which can also be re-used and recycled. This diverts around 2000 tonnes of waste from landfill each year. Fonterra works with a number of local community groups who help facilitate this process, enabling this waste stream to be fully recycled.

All of Fonterra's key manufacturing sites have plastic balers installed, this means less trips are required to take plastic for recycling, saving on transport costs and carbon emissions.

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