PlaceMakers reduces plastic wrapping

by | Apr 3, 2024

PlaceMakers continues its mission to be more sustainable with a trial to reduce the amount of plastic wrap it uses as part of a broader waste reduction initiative. Starting with its stores in Auckland, PlaceMakers will only wrap orders if requested by customers or if the product is in storage or rain is forecasted.

If wrapping is requested, PlaceMakers will charge a nominal fee of $5 plus GST, which will be donated to Forest and Bird – New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation.

Ensuring products arrive on site in top condition is still a priority for PlaceMakers and the reduction in wrapping will not change that, says Nick Scott, PlaceMakers’ Head of Sustainability.

“PlaceMakers staff are regularly checking forecasts to make sure that product always arrives in good condition, with weather updates sent out to our trial store locations. When it is forecast for rain, our staff will be primed to start wrapping.”

Thus far, reports indicate that builders have been accepting of the move – in part because staff take great pride in ensuring all products reach site in great condition.

“The change has been fairly seamless and we have received no negative feedback,” Mr Scott said.

“We estimate we have already reduced our plastic use by 60 per cent in our Auckland stores; however, we expect this figure to improve over time. Our target is to eliminate 37 rolls of plastic from entering our environment – but that may increase if the trial is extended to more stores.”

The new initiative is focused on improving the environmental sustainability of PlaceMakers’ business, but a large part of the sustainability remit is also to assist customers with their own efforts.

“We are looking to collaborate with key customers to see if we can assist with their sustainability initiatives, to help them meet Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) demands. That includes recycling as well as reduction,” Mr Scott said. 

Currently, construction and demolition waste make up around half of New Zealand’s total waste going to landfill. Part of PlaceMakers ESG goal is to help bring that number down over the next few years by working closely with the construction industry.

“We want to be a proactive organisation that works to reduce the amount of construction waste, rather than let stats like that remain the status quo,” Mr Scott said.

“Plastic wrap is a good place to start, given that the amount used to wrap one pallet is equal to hundreds of plastic bags. It is an easy win for us to start there. If we change the way we operate, we can potentially save over 15 tonnes of plastic from making its way into landfill every year.”

To save more waste from damaging New Zealand’s environment, PlaceMakers is also partnering with Zero Plastic Oceans to trial the use of recycled Ocean Bound Plastic (OBP) as an alternative source of wrapping. OBP is plastic waste at risk of ending up in the ocean and is estimated to generate 80 per cent of marine litter. During the trial period, OBP will be recycled into wrapping and used when required at PlaceMakers stores.

The scheme is part of a wider waste reduction initiative, which is also looking into further opportunities, such as a trial to use paper-based strapping that can be easily recycled, which could be coupled with a strapping chipper that would chip strapping and recycle it.