Recycling planned from the ground up
Since 1993 Fisher & Paykel Appliances has been doing its bit as a responsible brand-owner by recycling old whiteware and diverting thousands of tonnes of material away from New Zealand landfills.
On average, around 25,000 appliances are recycled through its recycling programme every year. This means that over the last 20 years the company has diverted more than half a million appliances, or 30,000 tonnes of material, away from landfill.
The smart drives from Fisher & Paykel washing machines are removed intact and sent to a company called Eco Innovation, who use them to make a low-cost, domestic-scale, hydro electricity generators. One Eco Innovation PowerSpout can produce more than 8,000 kWh per year – enough to power an average household.
Plastic components from collected appliances are separated into their different polymers to enable easier recycling. In total around 10 tonnes a month of plastic is recycled by the Fisher & Paykel recycling operation. Plastics recycled include PVC, ABS, PC, Nylon, PP, LDPE, HDPE and Noryl. Some of these plastics are also broken down into natural and coloured to further enable quality recycling.
Fisher & Paykel’s design team ensure that all plastic components in their appliances can be identified by labelling them according to the international standard ISO1043. This helps recyclers visually identify the different polymers to enable good material separation and maximise recycling potential.
The fact that the company has a recycling operation at the same site that their appliances are designed also makes it easy for product developers to work closely with those that fully understand the implications of design decisions for end of life management.
Separated plastics are sent from F&P to plastics recycling company Astron Plastics in East Tamaki. Astron processes the HDPE, LDPE, polypropylene, ABS, polycarbonate and polystyrene from Fisher and Paykel at their plant here in New Zealand. Some of the other, less common and difficult to recycle plastics are sent overseas for recycling.
Polystyrene and ABS make up about two-thirds of the F&P plastics recycled by Astron. These are granulated then extruded then re-pelletised for sale to plastics manufacturers as an alternative to virgin material for use in products, such as plastic chairs.
Other polymers are processed in a similar way by Astron, and may be blended with additives and colourants before being remanufactured by the firm into cablecover.
Around 80 per cent of the plastic Astron recycles for F&P ends up in products in New Zealand. The remaining material is sold to manufacturers overseas.
The remaining parts are sent to Sims Pacific Metals where they are processed.
Plastics New Zealand is the industry association for plastics manufacturers in New Zealand. See: www.Pleastics.org.nz
Just a fraction of the scrap recovered that will be recycled as a part of Fisher & Paykel’s recycling programme. Photo supplied