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