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Council trials seats made from recycled toner cartridges

31 May 2004

Seats and bollards made from recycled photocopier and printer toner cartridges are being tried by the City Council.

The seats are being installed at bus stops on New Brighton, Greers, Waimairi, and Harewood roads along with some bollards to test public acceptance and their resilience to different weather conditions, frequent use and vandalism, says Richard Bailey, amenity maintenance team leader, Transport & City Streets.

If the products prove hardy, it is likely that Transport & City Streets will consider replacing more public seats and bollards in its areas, as they need repairs. The new cartridge-recycled seats are sturdy, cost less than the usual wooden seats and bollards, and reuse material that would otherwise go to landfill.

"It makes sense to use this sustainable product, but we need to test its use over two to three years to know whether it is a reliable option," Mr Bailey says.

Councillor Sally Buck, who pushed for the use of the recycled products, says that the usual wooden seats are made from imported kwila hardwood which posed a problem. According to Council policy, any wood used for seats had to come from sustainably managed forests. "It’s not always easy to trace where the imported hardwood comes from," says Ms Buck.

Rachael Sampson, manager of Toner Recycling Centre in Auckland which makes the recycled seats, says toner cartridges are stripped of metal components to be recycled, while the remaining plastic is granulated. This prevents any empty cartridges that cannot be reused going to landfill.

An injection moulding process is then used that tolerates impurities caused by residual ink and toner. The seats and bollards do not fade, crack, splinter or rot and are graffiti-resistant and difficult to set alight, Ms Sampson says.

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