Foodstuffs North Island Partners with UPPAREL to Repurpose Textile Waste
(L-R) Andrew Reynolds, Foodstuffs North Island Technical Facilities Manager and Jeff Vollebregt, UPPAREL New Zealand Director
Foodstuffs North Island, the 100% New Zealand owned and operated co-operative behind PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Square in North Island, has today announced plans to recycle the textile waste that comes from its distribution centre’s uniforms and end-of-life personal protective equipment (PPE), converting waste into new materials.
As part of its commitment to be ‘Here for NZ’ and a promise to be leaders in sustainability, the 100-year-old co-operative is working with UPPAREL, the first textile and garment waste recycler of its kind to open in Aotearoa. Foodstuffs North Island is sending its end-of-life PPE that’s worn by its 450 strong distribution centre team at Landing Drive in Māngere, Auckland and turning it into sustainable products like homewares and building and construction materials.
Andrew Reynolds, Foodstuffs North Island Technical Facilities Manager, says: “When I first heard about UPPAREL I knew this was an opportunity for us to move to a more sustainable way of doing business. Our distribution centre is a busy place to work and when our uniforms and PPE need replacing, we want to be doing the right thing. That’s where working with UPPAREL comes in. We can provide items like high visibility vests, fleece jackets and steel capped safety shoes that are no longer fit for purpose and UPPAREL will work to ensure they are repurposed into new materials.”
“One of the really cool things about working at Foodies is the culture that comes with being a 100% New Zealand owned and operated co-op. I’ve been supported by the wider team every step of the way and am excited about the opportunities of working more closely with UPPAREL in the future.”
Jeff Vollebregt, UPPAREL New Zealand Director, says: “We’re excited to be working with Foodstuffs North Island to help them turn their textile waste into recycled products. Having a major New Zealand company like Foodstuffs partnering with UPPAREL is a massive boost for the textile waste management initiative in Aotearoa and will make a genuine impact. As a certified B Corp, our commitment is to use business for good and to make a positive social and environmental impact for the next generation. What that looks like in action is converting what would be deemed waste into a valuable resource. People are often surprised to learn textiles are one of the highest emitting products in landfill. Sadly, most old garments don’t need to be thrown out in the first place as they can either be reused or repurposed.”
“When we receive end-of-life items the first thing we do is sort whether it can be reused or needs to be repurposed. If it can be reused – great, we sort it further into subcategories like men’s tops, women’s tops etc before donating it all to charities, social enterprises and not for profits. For items that can’t be re-used, we are able to repurpose them and replace consumer and commercial products that have traditionally been made from virgin non-sustainable materials, such as polystyrene, fibreglass and cellulose. An example is a fluffy fibre we call FillUP which can be used to make a wide range of sustainable products like cushion, jacket or quilt fill. We can further develop the FillUP fibre into insulation, sofa cushioning, and even pet beds.”
Foodstuffs North Island’s partnership with UPPAREL contributes to its goal of achieving zero-waste by 2035. Through the partnership to date, Foodstuffs North Island has diverted over 80 kgs of textiles from landfill and prevented nearly 300 kgs of greenhouse gases.
Further information about Foodstuffs commitment to be ‘Here for NZ’ is available here.