Social: Whilst milk bottles are some of the most commonly collected plastic materials from kerbside collection, they have tended to be sent to Asia to be recycled. The company directors have long held a concern about sending plastics off shore rather than recycling locally and believe that the environment is best served by reuse within New Zealand.
Economic: The Comspec wash plant provides a local solution which gives South Island councils and recyclers from Nelson to Invercargill an on-shore market for their materials instead of the commodity rollercoaster ride they have suffered over the last six months where pricing shifted from an extremely high kilo rate to zero and then back to two thirds of the original value. As a point of difference Comspec focuses on a single HDPE material which enables them to deliver a high value end product suited for specific applications for the domestic plastics industry and enhances opportunities for exporting their products overseas.
Product Stewardship: The Comspec project is a microcosm of product stewardship bringing together milk producers with local South Island councils and recycling operators to provide a local solution to recycling milk bottles, and creating a cost effective recycled resin suitable for many applications within New Zealand’s plastics manufacturers.
The Future: Comspec has developed a wash facility which produces high quality plastic feedstock from household milk bottles. The plant can also be used for janitorial products. There are opportunities to extend the facility to process other types of plastic resins here in New Zealand rather than overseas. The long term view of the Comspec team is that all plastics are a valuable resource that should be mined from the waste stream to create sustainable recycled resins for use within many applications within agricultural and industrial plastics manufacturing. With joint partnerships between Councils, Recyclers, and the Plastics Industry, over-all product stewardship of Plastic Packaging is becoming an achievable target.