New Zealand agriculture’s effort to recycle its waste plastic is a good news story.
Over these 15 years, Wenzlick says he saw quality slipping, wastage rising because of breaking posts and at times post availability was a problem.
He had a ‘eureka moment’ during a fencing job next to an old rubbish dump where he had posts breaking on plastics hidden below the surface.
“Surely if plastics are this tough we should be making fence posts from them,” he mused.
A chance meeting with farmer and recycling guru Bindi Ground led to a business partnership to make premium fencing products.
The Future Post was born and it won the Fieldays Launch NZ Innovation Award at the Mystery Creek Innovation Competition.
“Saving the planet one post at a time,” Wenzlick quips about the company’s Kiwi No. 8 mentality development.
Developing the plastic required travel to the US to research plastics recycling and back in New Zealand they did more R&D. Then came developing a production plant with the help of South Waikato Precision Engineering, Tokoroa, and taking over a factory unit in Waiuku.
Today, that factory takes in bales of recycled HDPE plastics including Fonterra milk bottles and soft plastics from supermarkets. These are broken down into ‘chips’ which are blended in a secret recipe and then extruded as a solid black post, cured in a water-bath to emerge as the finished product.
The posts are now made at a rate of 300 per day in three sizes: 125mm diameter x 1.8m long rounds, 125mm x 2.4m long rounds for vineyard and horticulture, and 200mm diameter rounds for use as strainers.
The plastic posts have many advantages over wooden posts, says Wenzlick. They last at least 50 years versus the typical 15 - 20 years for timber. And they survive well in harsh environments such as on the coast with its salt spray.
In use the Bio-Grade certified Future Posts can be worked with the same tools as timber posts. They are sawn easily, take standard staples driven as usual and they suit driving with mechanical post-drivers.
They don’t need insulators when used for electric fences and they don’t splinter.
Plans are in place for South Island production to meet increasing demand, Wenzlick says.
Buy the posts at Farm Source rural stores, priced at a “slight premium” over timber posts.