Pallets put to use on peat lake pests

The reuse of the familiar wooden pallets stems from a collaboration between the Department of Conservation (DOC), the Department of Corrections and Fonterra, says DOC Partnership Development Advisor Wayne Green.

“DOC has important partnerships with Fonterra and Corrections, and we identified a collaboration which made new use of a readily available resource and helped upskill offenders,” he says.

Fonterra alerted DOC to the potential availability of wooden pallets which could easily be repurposed into trap boxes. Corrections operates a programme for people serving community work sentences which sees them develop basic carpentry skills.

“We joined up Corrections with Fonterra and that’s resulted in hundreds of trap boxes being made available free to community groups throughout the region,” says Wayne Green.

“Lake Ruatuna is a Fonterra-DOC Living Water project site, and it’s previously benefitted from the partnership through a significant investment in revegetation, removal of pest plants and protection of the lake using a koi carp control trap.

“We’re aware of pests still threatening our native species at Lake Ruatuna, so it made good sense to focus this ‘recycling’ initiative at this site. We’ve used 50 of the Fonterra-derived trap boxes at this site alone.”

Lawrence Hooker, Fonterra’s National Pallet Manager, says Fonterra uses 831,235 pallets in its operations, moving them about 2.5 million times per year.

All Fonterra’s pallets are made from green or heat-treated sustainable NZ pine. The co-operative writes off 10,000 pallets and replaces more than 460,000 pallet boards every year.

“Keeping these pallets fit for purpose is performed by Fonterra’s long-time supplier Timpack Industries Ltd,” he says.

“Wood waste is sustainably disposed of, being chipped up for use in large commercial landscaping projects or in children’s playgrounds. Our pallet pool is reusable, and we are always looking for ways to reduce the waste.

“When the opportunity came up to supply our pallet wood waste to the Department of Corrections for offenders to gain some basic carpentry skills, making pest traps for DOC to deploy to protect New Zealand’s flora, fauna and native animals, it was a no-brainer.

“Any initiative taking Fonterra waste from a sustainable single use to a multi-use is an opportunity we will pursue.”

Department of Corrections Senior Community Work Supervisor Warren Smith says it’s important to give people on community work sentences meaningful projects to allow them to pay something back for their offending.

“We use a template to cut the timber and then form a production line to nail the boxes together and fix the galvanised mesh to the front,” he says.

“The offenders are proud of what they produce. They know they’re doing something positive for the environment and community, and they’re learning a range of new skills at the same time.”

“If the work is meaningful and worthwhile, they show up and do a good job.”

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