Thursday, 12 October 2023 11:55

Plastic posts of the future opens plant in the South

Written by  Mark Daniel
Future Post founder and chief executive Jerome Wenzlick at the company’s Waiuku factory. Future Post founder and chief executive Jerome Wenzlick at the company’s Waiuku factory.

It is estimated more than half a million wooden vineyard posts get broken every year in Marlborough.

However, the environmental consequence of their CCA treatment rules out burning or burying the posts. This means there are piles of old posts on every vineyard, with growers scratching their heads about what to do with them.

The recent opening of Future Post's second soft plastics recycling facility at the former Timberlink site in Blenheim will be welcomed by an industry that is taking huge strides to embrace improved sustainability.

The Future Post story is one of genuine Kiwi ingenuity. It saw the company's founder Jerome Wenzlick working as a farmer and fencing contractor for 15 years seeing timber post quality slipping, wastage increasing because of breakages and struggles with continuity of supply.

"Surely, if plastics are this tough, we should be making fence posts from them?" he thought. Then a chance meeting with farmer and recycling guru Bindi Ground led to a business partnership being formed producing premium fencing products from plastic. Future Post was born.

A research trip to the US to research plastics recycling, was followed with a period of R&D, with a production plant built at Tokoroa with the help of local company South Waikato Precision Engineering. This led to the eventual set up of a factory in 2018 at Waiuku, south of Auckland.

Today, the Waiuku factory takes in bales of recycling HDPE plastics including the infamous Fonterra 'soft' milk bottles and a range of soft plastics sourced from supermarkets and regional collection hubs. Broken down into 'chips', the plastics are blended into a secret recipe which is then pushed through an extrusion plant, emerging as a largely-solid black post. The items are then cured by passing through a waterbath to become the finished product.

Currently posts are made in 125mm diameter rounds up to 2.4m in length; 200mm diameter rounds for use as strainers are up to 2.7m in length and 135mm square section posts up to 2.4m long.

Said to be as strong as timber, the plastic posts can be worked with the same tools as wooden ones and are sawn and easily drilled, using standard staples in the normal manner. They are also suitable for driving with mechanical posthitters and don't expose fencers to any splitters.

Claimed maximum life is over 50 years, compared to the more typical 15 to 20 years for timber. The product is fully Bio-Gro NZ Certified and currently available through many rural supply stores at a slight premium over its wooden equivalent.

Hassan Wong, Future Post general manager, said the Waiuku-based company has processed 1800 tonnes of recycled plastic in the last 12 months to make their post. However, he believes this figure is likely to jump to over 4,000 tonnes per year with the addition of the new factory. As the country's largest wine producing region, Marlborough used a lot of posts, which Wong says made Blenheim the perfect place to make them.

More like this

Saving the planet one post at a time

Working as a farmer and fencing contractor for 15 years made Jerome Wenzlick very familiar with fence posts — now he's “saving the planet one post at a time”.

Featured

Maui Milk blames supply/demand imbalance

Sheep milk processor Maui Milk says it’s one of many companies being impacted by the imbalance between supply and demand for New Zealand sheep dairy products.

Feds offer support for Maui Milk suppliers

Federated Farmers is arranging support for a small group of dairy sheep farmers in the North Island, who were told this week to stop milking by processor, Maui Milk.

National

Weather back to normal?

MetService meteorologist James Millward says the country’s weather patterns are now on a much more even footing.

Dealing with SNAs

As Associate Minister for Agriculture and the Environment, Andrew Hoggard has a number of delegations to focus on.

Hoggard's double Act

ACT MP Andrew Hoggard may no longer be hands-on every day at his dairy farm at Kiwitea in the Manawatu,…

Machinery & Products

Kubota tests diesel engines

Kubota last month used the UK LAMMA Show to test the water with its new 200hp, four-cylinder 09-series diesel engines.

Stone collection made easier

Usually a task given to higher horsepower tractors, stone picking looks like its moved down the horsepower charts, to anyone…

A very handy piece

Handypiece is a fully portable shearing handpiece being used by thousands of farmers and ag workers, in diverse roles across…

Killing weed seeds in a single pass

John Deere's X-Series Combine Harvesters can now be complemented by the advanced weed control capability of Redekop’s Seed Control Unit…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Feds power!

OPINION: Your canine crusader reckons no single lobby group has had a bigger turnaround in fortunes than Federated Farmers since…

The DCM award

OPINION: This old mutt suggests the 'don't come Monday' (DCM) award (in other words, resign) must go to the heartless,…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter