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November 21, 2018

Moving towards a circular economy  

Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability, Carolyn Mortland, talks about the circular economy approach and how Fonterra is looking at ways to adopt this model.  

There’s no doubt the world is running scarce of resources, and at the rate waste is dumped it’s no wonder. Globally, 2.1 billion tonnes of waste is sent to landfill every year and we know this model is not sustainable.

This has driven a shift in thinking. Materials once thought of as waste are now being recycled and reused. We call this the circular economy. The circular economy is an approach based on reducing the impact materials have on our environment by keeping them in use for longer, and therefore reducing the amount of waste we produce.

Businesses can play a big part in leading the charge.

That’s why we’ve recently joined forces with New Zealand start-up Future Posts to create recycled plastic fence posts for farms. 

The fence posts are made of Anchor Light Proof milk bottles, along with other soft plastics, including single-use plastic bags. They are 100% recyclable and have a life expectancy of 50+ years - nearly double that of a wooden fence post. At the end of their life, they can be recycled again into another fence post.

Fonterra Environment & Sustainability Manager Larisa Thathiah, Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell, and Future Posts General Manager Jerome Wenzlick reveal a first peak of the recycled posts at Fonterra’s Open Gates event in Karaka.

By sharing our expertise and resources with Future Posts, we are driving circular economy action.

This isn’t the only example. SKYCITY is turning our Anchor milk bottles collected from their hotel rooms, restaurants and cafes into mini shampoo, conditioner and body lotion bottles for guests.

We’ve also set up NZAgbiz in 2005 with the purpose of creating value from dairy by-products that might otherwise go to landfill. What that looks like today is taking ‘loss streams’, like cheese trimmings, from Fonterra and even other dairy manufacturing sites and turning them into useful animal nutritional products. These are then sold to farmers to help their livestock thrive.

Both this and the SKYCITY partnership are finalists in the 2018 Sustainable Business Network Business Awards 'Going Circular' category.

These examples are more than just simple recycling initiatives. They’re a collaborative effort between New Zealand companies, taking responsibility for reducing their environmental impact.

To help speed up the adoption of the circular economy in New Zealand, the Sustainable Business Network has founded a Circular Economy Accelerator. The Accelerator helps businesses progress their circular journey by providing resources and guidance. Their research has shown Auckland, New Zealand could be $8.8 billion better off by 2030 if it makes a transition to the circular economy.

The circular economy is good for you, for the environment and for your bottom line. It will continue to play a bigger and bigger role. Fonterra is proud to be on this journey. We will continue to look at ways where we can embed this approach into our business.

To read more about Fonterra’s progress towards sustainability click here.

View the full Sustainability Report 2018

The report was prepared using the internationally recognised Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and has been independently assured.

Click here