Sustainability – Proquip, Fonterra and the Circular Economy


Since the closure of Fonterra’s ethanol plant at its Edgecumbe site in 2020, the site has been working to recycle the old kit – and with the help of Proquip, it’s managed to recycle a remarkable 98%.

Proquip provides innovative solutions for assets that have reached the end of their natural lifecycle. This includes the buying and selling of second-hand equipment and managing the disposal of assets to maximize their return.

For years, Proquip and Fonterra have been working side by side to reallocate and maximize the return on surplus assets, both within New Zealand and offshore. 

While there’s an obvious financial element to this work, there is also a significant focus on Fonterra’s strategic priority of sustainability, ensuring that it is central to every project.

At the Co-op’s Edgecumbe site the project incorporated the disassembly of the ethanol plant, the removal of assets and restoring the area to a state where it can be repurposed as part of the wider site.

Many items were preserved and repurposed for application at the Edgecumbe site, while others were distributed to different Fonterra sites nationwide for use in alternate projects. 

Excitingly, the main part of the ethanol fermentation equipment was sold to a New Zealand company for potential use in a biofuels project.

The project involved a whopping 1615.84 tonnes of material being extracted – that is approximately 403 adult elephants. This included steel from the building, steel extracted from the concrete, and various other building items. Twenty-one tonnes were processing components, for example, valves, pipework, cables, and this was recycled with the funds coming back to Fonterra.

Re-distributing or recycling the assets is satisfying, doing our best for Fonterra’s long-term sustainability targets.

Will Rouse, Regional Engineering Project Manager, fonterra

The concrete, once separated from the steel, was put through a grinder and reduced to a type of concrete that was used to level the site and provided to Fonterra farmers for use in improving farm tracks.

Fonterra’s Regional Engineering Project Manager, Will Rouse says the demolition work completed the five-year programme of work.

“It was the final piece of the puzzle to eliminate the hazardous process from site while also reducing water usage and effluent generation significantly.”

“We’re always proud of delivering a good outcome for the Co-op while maintaining the safety and wellbeing of those involved in our projects. Re-distributing or recycling the assets is satisfying, doing our best for Fonterra’s long-term sustainability targets.”

Proquip Director, Mark Dykes says it’s rewarding to see results that go beyond the site.

“Through teamwork and focus, we've not only made a positive difference for this Fonterra site but also the wider community and the environment in and around Edgecumbe. The repurposing of equipment into other applications extends life and minimizes waste. Our projects with Fonterra continue to generate favourable sustainability results, and we look forward to doing more impactful work with the Co-op in the future”.

The remaining 2% was made of treated timber, insulation, and polystyrene, for which there is no recycling opportunity within Aotearoa, New Zealand.