Cardboard and food packaging recycled into construction products

It started as a bright idea to reduce the waste of milk cartons distributed in schools. It’s now a multi-million dollar business transforming the way we reuse waste.

Sustainable waste reduction company SaveBOARD, with a $2.7 million investment from Freightways, is striving to grow and have a greater impact on the environment.

Paul Charteris is the company’s co-founder and managing director and over the past four years has made it his mission to convert 4,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfills.

They do this by converting often contaminated products like food cartons and courier packaging – which were previously not recyclable – into sustainable building materials.

Paul Charteris is the co-founder and CEO of the company and over the past four years has made it his mission to convert 4,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfills into sustainable building materials.

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF/Waikato Times

Paul Charteris is the co-founder and CEO of the company and over the past four years has made it his mission to convert 4,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfills into sustainable building materials.

“It was to make a difference…When I saw this in the United States, I was like, ‘Wow, how can we bring this here?’…Because you can actually take trash daily packaging and recycle them into building materials that can be recycled again rather than having all these bins full of construction waste,” Charteris said.

“It actually creates a circular solution for packaging as well as building materials.

“In an ideal world, there would be no packaging waste,” Charteris said. “I can’t change that, but I can provide a solution to the waste we’re already creating.”

Tons of waste is washed and processed at the saveBoard Te Rapa factory before being churned in a machine and flattened to create the unique speckled boards.

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF/Waikato Times

Tons of waste is washed and processed at the saveBoard Te Rapa factory before being churned in a machine and flattened to create the unique speckled boards.

In partnership with Freightways and shareholders like Closed Loop and Tetra Pak, SaveBOARD has been able to establish a fully operational factory in Hamilton and a second in Australia due to open in October.

What started as a $1.1 million loan in 2021 from Freightways grew into a 22% stake and since then the freight company has catalyzed efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

The new Te Rapa plant has also installed a cleaning facility on its production line, allowing it to use contaminated materials that would otherwise go straight to landfill.

Post-consumer waste is then turned into building materials similar to plywood, oriented strand board and particleboard – which are rare.

Freightways chief executive Mark Troughear said for years before they ran a similar recycling strategy with paper and packaging.

Managing Director of Freightways, Mark Troughear.

Supplied/Waikato Times

Managing Director of Freightways, Mark Troughear.

Working alongside SaveBOARD meant they could continue to divert waste and move closer to their fossil fuel emissions targets.

“For years, we’ve been diverting about 50,000 tons of material from landfills to recycling streams, which got us thinking about other things we could pick up,” Troughear said.

“When we looked at SaveBOARD, we said, ‘It’s not too different, the idea again is that you get the product back…you shred it and then put it through a process that recycles it,’ and we really liked this idea.

“Our goal is to reduce our plastic use by 70% by the end of this year, and then the other goal is to reduce our carbon emissions by 50% by 2035.”

The sustainable panels will be used for much-needed building materials while creating environmental impact by helping reduce carbon emissions.

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF/Waikato Times

The sustainable panels will be used for much-needed building materials while creating environmental impact by helping reduce carbon emissions.

At SaveBOARD, Charteris wants to recycle 100,000 tonnes of waste by 2030 and will need more factories to increase capacity, which he says is entirely achievable.

He had five more factories on order and was excited to see other companies creating similar environmental initiatives globally.

“Without Freightways and our other shareholders, this would not be a reality.

“Every board sold means 10kg less carbon emissions and less packaging going to landfill… The more people use recycled materials, the better off the planet is. This is the circular economy in action .

“We have a great company and great support to make changes,” Charteris said.

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