Turning Milk Bottles into Fence Posts
Environmental efforts lead to better efficiency, safety and collaborations for Fonterra Brands New Zealand.
Turning milk bottles into fence posts might seem impossible, however to Fonterra Brands New Zealand (FBNZ) it is a fundamental part of their award-winning environmental management system.
FBNZ, known for its consumer dairy brands including Anchor, Kapiti Ice-cream and Mainland, works with the innovative Kiwi company, Future Post, to repurpose their plastic milk bottles into unique fence posts.
It’s not surprising that FBNZ’s staff and management are very proud of the initiative.
“The project demonstrates a collaborative approach throughout our supply chain to collect bottles back from our customer. It proves that through collaborative partnerships we can make a positive difference,” says FBNZ’s Sustainability and Environment Manager Larisa Thathiah.
The Future Post initiative isn’t the only environmental management scheme underway at FBNZ. Anyone who has stayed at SKYCITY recently may have noticed the hotel’s Puriri toiletries range, a result of their collaboration with FBNZ. Those shampoo and soap bottles are made from recycled Anchor plastic milk bottles, an initiative that has saved 1,000 kilograms of virgin plastic a year.
“Sustainability is a value at the heart of our business,” says Larisa. “We want to do what is right for the long term good and meet consumer and community needs.”
FBNZ has made significant improvements with its integrated work system programme, which is having resource efficiency and environmental benefits through improvements to the manufacturing process.
As well as this, “the work we have also put into improving our chemical storage and controls on site is significantly improving safety to our people and our environment”, says Larisa. “Major effort is also put into reducing water use and energy footprints, which have economic benefits along with environmental.”
FBNZ is Toitū enviromark certified to diamond level, having first joined the Toitū Envirocare family back in 2004. Their Takanini manufacturing site was the first to gain diamond certification in 2010, while the three Lower North Island manufacturing sites at Palmerston North, Eltham, and Paraparaumu achieved diamond certification in 2016. Their two distribution centres have also started the Toitū enviromark journey, and this year achieved bronze level certification.
FBNZ has around 1370 employees and maintaining the diamond certification is a key factor in motivating staff and management across the business to continually explore ways to improve performance and invest in innovation.
“One of the biggest improvements our business has seen is the ownership of environmental management spreading throughout the layers of the business,” says Larisa. “Our staff are becoming more environmentally aware and involved in continuous environmental improvements.”
Larisa credits Toitū Envirocare with helping to provide the credibility and third-party evidence that underpins FBNZ’s impressive environmental efforts
“The Toitū enviromark programme provides independent validation of the efforts the business goes to in order to not only achieve regulatory compliance and standards, but to ensure that we operate in a way that strives for the best possible outcomes for our people and the environment”, she says.
The certification has assisted FBNZ to secure contracts with key customers. Consumers are also becoming more environmentally conscious and their Toitū enviromark certification shows that they share common values.
Larisa adds, “Embarking on the Toitū enviromark programme gives the ability to build an environmental management programme (EMS) through a step by step process. This is a valuable tool as it ensures all components of your EMS are constructed robustly from the get-go.”
FBNZ was recognised for their environmental efforts as a finalist in the Environmental Management Excellence Award at the recent Toitū Envirocare’s Awards ceremony. They were also the 2017 winners of the Outstanding Performance in Environmental Management award at the previous Toitū Envirocare Awards.
The Toitū enviromark programme enables systematic development and improvement of a credible environmental management system. Toitū Envirocare helps to identify the actual and potential environmental impacts of every aspect of an organisation and support that organisation in reducing its impacts. Compliance with the programme is independently verified annually to maintain certification, which ensures accurate and consistent environmental management claims.