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Jul 20, 2021

These Tauranga high school students are turning non-recyclable plastic bottle tops into earrings

As you drain that last drop of milk into your cereal or coffee, wash out the bottle and chuck it into the recycling bin, what do you do with the plastic bottle top?


In most main centres of New Zealand, or anywhere in the country really where there is kerbside recycling, milk bottles are generally recyclable, but the plastic tops are not. The same goes for soft drink lids, or any other small plastic caps.

In some cases these items are made from plastic that is recyclable, but they are too small or lightweight. They can get stuck in the recycling machinery, or they end up slipping through holes in the first stage of the sorting process and go to landfill anyway.

This gap in industrial recycling has over the years led to some creative initiatives and business ideas, including a company in Hāwera that is shredding bottle tops into plastic granules, which are then being made into pipes and rubbish bags.

Now, a group of high school students in Tauranga have come up with their own small solution.

Realising just how many household items have non-recyclable tops, the teenagers started thinking about ways to repurpose that plastic into a lifelong product, to reduce the number being sent to landfills.

The five Ōtūmoetai College students are taking part in the Young Enterprise Scheme and have started a business that turns the plastic bottle tops into earrings.

Their company – Dune – has launched on Instagram and will be appearing at markets in Mount Maunganui next month.

Read more here.