Compostable Twine for Greenhouse Growers
The Extrutec factory is based at Marsden Port in Northland. Joe and Theunie Wiid made the move from Auckland three years ago looking for more space to expand production capacity. Before moving to NZ in 2002, Joe worked in the plastics industry so starting a business in NZ provided him with an opportunity to get back into plastics but also focus on the design and development aspect of manufacturing. “We consider Extrutec as innovative as we are often pushing the boundaries in the world of plastic manufacturing” and Joe always seems to have a trial or an experiment on the go. It was this out of the box approach that led to a conversation with a large greenhouse grower looking for a sustainable way of dealing with their twine at the end of the season. This challenge set Extrutec on a path to finding eco solutions to several such challenges and ultimately changed their strategic journey.
The conventional twines used in greenhouses are generally made from recyclable plastic (PP). Technically the green waste can be made into compost and the twine can be recycled at the end of the season. In practise it is not that simple though. The twine has to be completely free of plant residues to be accepted for recycling and plant material contaminated with plastic cannot be composted to provide good, clean compost. It is simply too labour intensive, time consuming and uneconomical to meet the requirements for recycling and composting under these circumstances so the whole lot usually ends up in landfill or is burned.
EarthTwine solves this problem, because it is not necessary to separate the used twine and plant material at the end of the season. The twine also breaks down completely into hummus so the whole lot can go into a commercial composting system where it will break down leaving no harmful residues. Depending on the temperature and humidity of the individual composting unit, this happens in as little as three months and usually does not take longer than six months.
Although the concept of compostable twine is not entirely new, it took a few years and what seemed like endless trials to develop EarthTwine. The machine designs and raw material blends are not available off the shelf and had to be developed inhouse. Intellectual property in this industry remains closely guarded.
Joe originally designed EarthTwine to replace the twine used in commercial hothouses, but we have been able to adjust its properties to also meet the requirements of other growers and users of agricultural twine. “We are currently doing field trials in hops orchards and our baling twine solution will be available soon. In the meantime, we have also taken to market a soil degradable twist tie for use in viticulture, nurseries and general tying applications.”
“Plastic can be circular if we design and make it so.” Compostable products for growers provide an opportunity for it to be truly circular, putting back into nature what was taken to make the plastic. With EarthTwine Extrutec have an opportunity to put back the raw materials taken (plant starch) to produce the twine back as compost.
Extrutec see their future in the eco space, developing and making plastic products in a way that takes full advantage of the many positive attributes of plastic, but without creating waste. Other industries are noticing the work Extrutec is accomplishing which has given them the opportunity to also work on Eco Marine and Infrastructure products.
“Just a few years ago it seemed inconceivable that we could be creating plastic products without contributing to the waste and pollution often associated with plastics, but that is fast becoming a reality and we are very excited to be a part of that future.”
Extrutec have recently joined the many suppliers supporting and advertising their company with the Grower2Grower e-magazine. The philosophy and principles of Extrutec align directly with our own to help provide growers with sustainable options and solutions for the future. We are extremely happy to have Extrutec promoting their products with G2G and wish them every success.
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Article information supplied by Theunie Wiid
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