Sanitarium Health Food Company, a Seventh-day Adventist company in Australia and New Zealand, has adopted a “recycle, reuse, and regenerate” approach to minimize its environmental footprint.
In New Zealand, Sanitarium has begun diverting factory soft plastic waste to Future Post, a company that turns the plastics into fence posts. The fence posts are used in a range of sectors and are an environmentally friendly and sustainable solution, diverting thousands of tons of waste plastics from national landfill each year.
Sanitarium New Zealand currently has one baler — a machine that compresses soft plastics into compact bales — with plans to roll out two more later this year. The balers make the compacted soft plastic easily stackable, ready for transportation to Future Post’s factory in Waiuku to be recycled. Once all three balers are up and running, Sanitarium aims to divert up to 30 metric tons (about 66,000 pounds) of soft plastics to Future Post.
In Australia, Sanitarium has become a foundation supporter of the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS), a proposed new avenue to recycle soft plastics in Australia and build an advanced recycling industry to produce food-grade recycled packaging.
The new scheme, being developed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, aims to collect and recycle approximately 190,000 metric tons (about 419 million pounds) of plastic packaging each year by 2025, in a win for both the environment and food manufacturing in Australia.
The NPRS will facilitate collection of soft plastics, such as cereal and bread bags, pasta and rice packets, and confectionery wrappers, through an expanded curbside recycling program.
The soft plastics are then sent for processing at advanced recycling facilities, where high-tech processes break the plastic back down into “plasticrude” oil, ready to be made back into clean, food-grade plastic packaging locally rather than overseas. Food and grocery manufacturers such as Sanitarium pay a levy to support the cost of collection and administration.
“As a founding supporter of the National Plastics Recycling Scheme, we are contributing funding to this program as part of our corporate social responsibility framework, helping to establish a circular economy for this packaging material,” Andrew Whitson, research and development manager (packaging) at Sanitarium, said. “We believe this is even more important with the demise of REDcycle, leaving most Australians without easy access to recycle their soft plastics currently.
“This is another part of our aim to have 100 percent of our packaging as reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.”
Sanitarium has also introduced 100 percent recyclable and plastic-free point-of-sale (POS) displays, making it simple for retailers to recycle them at the end of their use and potentially saving 20 metric tons (about 44,000 pounds) of material from landfill.