WASTE SURVEY CONFIRMS WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS HAVE BEEN SHOUTING:
It’s time for action!

Our Waste & Opportunities Survey 2023 tells us we are on the path to circularity.  Just as well, as every customer it seems is checking-up on our green credentials and performance.  The great news is it’s not difficult: start by measuring your waste, and the next steps logically follow. 

Here’s the survey results for those that like a deeper dive.

Composites Waste 2023 – Final Report

INSIGHTS BASED ON WASTE HIERARCHY

Insights from 2023 NZ Composites Waste Survey

STAGE

INSIGHTS

REDESIGN/RETHINK
Redesign of your system, product or packaging in a way that focusses the plastics materials you’re using as valuable resource, not something to be thrown away.  
Strength – The survey showed key strengths in design, repair and refurbishment skills.  This can be further promoted & valued.  These skills are key to: Increasing repair & maintenance of existing products
Designing new products to reduce waste
Increasing the value of products in the future
Developing reuse models.  
REFUSE
Redesign of your system, product or packaging that lowers the amount of plastic or removes problematic plastic as a waste stream  
NZ Target Suggested – The survey suggests targeting efficiency, design, & repair to prevent waste. Proposing new solutions to retain value and keep materials in use for longer could be a better fit for NZ’s context, due to scale.  Developing relationships with neighbouring countries to access recycling technology is also suggested as a result of scale.    
REPLACE
Redesign of your system, product or packaging that replaces problematic materials with more sustainable and circular options  
Waste Types – The survey noted that manufacturing waste made up ~ 20% of waste reported.  End of life waste of products accounted for 80%. Manufacturing waste breakdown data showed off cuts & overspray are key areas where improvements to manufacturing processes would result in significant reduction in waste volume. Related cardboard & plastics use in manufacturing processes indicated that 99% is recycled. This shows when there is a system in place, recycling is performed.  
REDUCE
Redesign of your system, product or packaging that reduces the amount of plastic (or virgin plastic) materials you are using  
Tracking Materials Use & Waste – The survey suggested a starting position of measuring and tracking what comes into business and what goes out. This involves measuring waste by volume and type to enable future solutions to be developed. Equipment Collaboration – Another idea noted was the sharing or renting of equipment can enable greater access to low emissions vehicles & forklifts.  
REUSE
Redesign of your system, product or packaging that incorporates reuse models  
Composite products have a high potential for reuse due to the long life & repairable nature of the materials. This needs further promotion with examples and discussion stimulation in the sector. A training or certification system for approved laminators could benefit the sector if extended to include assessment of products for reuse.  
RECYCLE
Redesign of your system, product or packaging that ensures your products or packaging is able to be easily recycled within the NZ recycling system  
Glass Fibre:  The survey identified mechanical recycling as the most economical option for glass fibre recycling & could provide the first steps if invested in. No examples of using ground fibreglass as a material input for new products were provided by respondents. The reuse of regrind/dust in decking products could be interesting avenue to develop in future.   Carbon fibre: The survey identified recycling technology requires high investment. Therefore, developing relationships with other countries to partner in recycling solutions is likely to be necessary for NZ, due to scale and funding.  

Report Summary: 
Mapping Glass Fibre Reinforced Composite Waste Materials Potential (in NZ)

Prepared by Dr Marie-Salome Duval-Chaneac


Key insights summarised from the report by
CANZ Reuse & Recycling Committee Feb 2024.

“CANZ and CIRCUIT are confident that composite materials are on the path to circularity and are equipped to initiate the first implementation steps towards sustainability”

Strength – The survey showed key strengths in design, repair and refurbishment skills.  This can be further promoted & valued.  These skills are key to:

  • Increasing repair & maintenance of existing products
  • Designing new products to reduce waste
  • Increasing the value of products in the future
  • Developing reuse models.

NZ Target Suggested – The survey suggests targeting efficiency, design, & repair to prevent waste. Proposing new solutions to retain value and keep materials in use for longer could be a better fit for NZ’s context, due to scale.  Developing relationships with neighbouring countries to access recycling technology is also suggested as a result of scale.

Waste Types –  The survey noted that manufacturing waste made up ~ 20% of waste reported.  End of life waste of products accounted for 80%. Manufacturing waste breakdown data showed off cuts and overspray are key areas  where improvements to manufacturing processes would result in significant reduction in waste volume. Related cardboard & plastics use in manufacturing processes indicated that 99% is recycled. This shows when there is a system in place, recycling is performed.

Tracking Materials Use & Waste – Suggested starting position is measuring and tracking what comes into a business and what goes out.  Measure waste by volume and type to enable future solutions to be developed.

Case Studies – Sharing experiences, processes & information can create case studies to inform the industry and be used for education & promotional purposes.

Equipment Collaboration – Sharing or renting equipment can assist with access to low emissions vehicles & forklifts.

End of Life Options Discussion:

Glass Fibre Composites

  • NZ Cement kiln co-processing is considered similar to waste disposal, with some costs involved to transport, sort, process waste ready for use.  Further testing is required to assess products that would be accepted.
  • Mechanical recycling is the most economical option for glass fibre recycling & could provide the first steps if invested in. No examples of using ground fibreglass as a material input for new products were provided by respondents. The reuse of regrind/dust in decking products could be interesting avenue to develop in future.

Carbon Fibre Composites

  • Recycling technology requires high investment. Therefore, developing relationships with other countries to partner in recycling solutions is likely to be necessary for NZ, due to scale and funding.

Next Steps:

The Reuse & Recycling committee has identified the following steps to get going :

  1. Measure what you are using, measure waste.  Calculate savings.
  2. Dive into efficiency and improvements.  What areas will you focus on first?
  3. Break it down to the next step.  Give clear examples to assist learning & take photos!
  4. Share your experience and insights so others can benefit.
  5. Celebrate & promote skills for repair, refurbishment, and reuse.
  6. Seek out & develop relationships with others working on similar problems & projects.

This report was co-funded by CANZ and Circular Connect of Plastics NZ. 
Research was conducted by CIRCUIT University of Auckland.

Note: the response rate means we cannot draw statistical conclusions about total volumes of NZ composites waste.

About
The survey was conducted by Circular Innovation (CIRCUIT) Research Centre from the University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering.  The project is initiated by the Composites Association of New Zealand (CANZ) with co-funding support from Circular Connect (Plastics NZ)

This survey aimed to capture data to provide a representation of the Composites Industry Sector and lobby for support, investment, and government assistance in setting up a national recycling solution and/or circular economy synergies between composites suppliers, manufacturers & users in New Zealand.

Approved by the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee on 29.09.23 for three years, Reference Number 26436.

Findings Note:

Unfortunately the response rate achieved from the survey means we cannot draw statistical conclusions about NZ’s total volume of composite waste. The logistics mapping is therefore of limited assistance, although was completed for the report based on responses. However, the insights gained are still highly relevant and applicable. Access to the data requested is suspected to have been a major barrier to completion, coupled with high workloads and labour shortages. The survey also went further than waste reduction into circular economy questions which may have affected response rate due to lack of understanding/acceptance of the term. This additionally lengthened the survey, hindering the ease at which the survey could be completed.