Turn­ing trash into trea­sure

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - SHANI WIL­LIAMS

A group of Auck­land stu­dents are trans­form­ing plas­tic waste into be­spoke fur­ni­ture.

Wes­ley In­ter­me­di­ate School stu­dents are mak­ing flat-pack fur­ni­ture prod­ucts from what pre­vi­ously would have ended up in land­fill.

The fur­ni­ture col­lec­tion has proven suc­cess­ful af­ter launch­ing online ear­lier this year.

Pieces have al­ready been scooped up by schools and busi- nesses across Auck­land, in­clud­ing Sylvia Park School and InCafe.

The ini­tia­tive be­gan as a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Wes­ley In­ter­me­di­ate School stu­dents and Fon­terra when the com­pany hired the stu­dents to trans­form used milk bot­tles into a de­sir­able prod­uct.

Fon­terra is a New Zealand dairy co-op­er­a­tive owned by more than 10,500 New Zealand Farm­ers.

The stu­dents worked with Crit­i­cal NZ to turn the milk bot­tles into house­hold items.

Crit­i­cal NZ is a so­cial en­ter­prise op­er­ated by teacher Andy Crowe and ar­chi­tect Rui Peng - the duo teach stu­dents de­sign out of the work­shop build­ing at Wes­ley In­ter­me­di­ate School.

The milk bot­tles are washed, shred­ded into pel­lets and then sep­a­rated into colours.

The plas­tic is then melted and crafted into stools, desks and cof­fee ta­bles.

Fon­terra re­sponded pos­i­tively to the prod­uct, so the stu­dents and Crit­i­cal NZ de­cided to ex­pand their prod­ucts online.

Peng said the aim was to use prof­its to of­fer stu­dents paid ap­pren­tice­ships.

‘‘There is a high level of tal­ent from mi­grants, refugees, young peo­ple and fam­i­lies but there is not enough op­por­tu­nity for em­ploy­ment,’’ he said.

Crit­i­cal NZ works to har­ness this tal­ent, fos­ter it and turn it into em­ploy­ment, Peng said.

The stu­dents source plas­tic from their fam­i­lies and the wider Mt Roskill com­mu­nity.

Year eight stu­dent Sam Ton­gai said he wanted to spread the mes­sage to other stu­dents that rub­bish could be use­ful.

‘‘The more we re­cy­cle, the less rub­bish will be over­flow­ing from our land­fills’’ Ton­gai said.

Year eight stu­dent Fi­fita Fainga’a said he made a fid­get spin­ner out of the plas­tic.

Prin­ci­pal Nigel Davis said Crit­i­cal NZ had taught stu­dents in­valu­able en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills.

SHANI WIL­LIAMS/STUFF

Stu­dents Sam Ton­gai, 13, and Fi­fita Fainga’a, 12, say they love turn­ing plas­tic into some­thing use­ful.

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