discovered ReMaterialise at the beginning of this year. I can't recall exactly
how I stumbled upon their website, I was probably looking for a creative ways
to reuse plastics. I was finding all sorts of innovative ways to re-use plastic
bags, and plastic bag fusing seemed the best way to use heaps of bags to make a
useful and strong item. I attempted plastic bag fusing myself, and I quickly
learned it was not easy! It is a slow process of painstakingly ironing plastic
bags on a low heat. My finished product was a wonky sheet of plastic that I
used as a place mat for the cat bowl.
About a month ago I unexpectedly found myself meeting the creator of
ReMaterialise, Fi, while I was volunteering for Ecomatters. I was very excited
to meet Fi, and may have fan-girled a bit as I knew all about ReMateralise. We
had a great conversation about plastic bags, being plastic free and the waste
stream in New Zealand. Fi is actually very anti-plastic bags and wants them
banned, meaning ReMaterialise would go out of business but to Fi that means her
business was a success.
Fi Leaning from ReMateralise
was born from a desire to use up the plastic bags I had accumulated over a few
years as I didn't want to throw them away. I looked around online and did lots
of research and I came across fusing, it has taken years to perfect the
We take at least 40 single use plastic supermarket bags and turn them into 1
reusable shopping bag. More bags are used if we are doing some funky design.
The bags are big enough to replace between 3-5 bags at the supermarket while
still being comfortable to carry. They will replace around 1000 plastic bags
from being used in their lifetime.
Each bag takes around 3 1/2 hours to make, much much longer if the design is
very intricate. The longest a bag has taken me is around 8 hours. As each piece
is unique there is usually lots of trial and error involved in getting it just
I consider myself to be a mad scientist, creative recycler, plastic artist and
environmentalist along with Mother, wife, daughter, sister. Some of my favorite
designs have taken many many hours to make.
I get my bags from Countdown plastic recycling bins, people send them to me in
the post or via courier. I have a few collections around Auckland from time to
time. Most of my bags come from people wanting to make a change from plastic to
reusable and want to get rid of their bottom drawer collection. We do end up
with lots of bags we cant use, and there is always scrap plastic, these are all
put into bales next to my house and are collected by Enviroreel
who is an Auckland company who recycle plastic on a massive scale. None of the
plastic that reaches us ends up in landfill.
I am very anti plastic bags, I am completely miffed that our government refused
to help us put a levy on plastic bags. Part of our mission is to educate people
against using so many disposable products. We have become a very throw away
society and we need to rethink that and go back to reusing things. Plastic bags
are made from a non renewable resource and are designed to be used once and
thrown away where they will survive for ever. Our process and mission is to
give a longer more productive life to this waste stream so that eventually its
production may actually have been worth it.
To date we have recycled around 60,000 plastic bags and have sent triple that
amount off to be recycled by Enviroreel. With luck though we hope to run out of
plastic bags and then I will know my business was a success and we will find
something else to manufacture out of another kind of waste. But until then we
have a never ending supply of plastic to work with.
We are a business, but currently not profitable, as with most recycling
companies getting the word out there takes up a huge amount of our time and
effort and any profits that we do make is plunged back into the business so we
can recycle even more plastic.
YES we can take your plastic for recycling, YES you can follow us on social
media and YES you can buy one of our fab bags, a great talking point at the
supermarket :) Fi Leaning
ReMaterialise make other goodies such as wallets,
notebooks, cloth bags and pouches
word on plastic bag recycling
It was announced a few months ago that New Zealand
will be trialing large scale plastic bag recycling. This is
excellent news, however, this does not mean that it is now sustainable to use
plastic bags. It is not! Plastic bags still get in the environment and cause
harm to animals, plants and fish. They do not degrade, and eventually turn to
micro plastics which slowly work their way up the food chain. The
bio-degradable bags are no better, these take years to degrade in the right
environment and can cause just as much environmental degradation. In New
Zealand around 40,000 plastic bags are disposed of to landfill every hour. Quit
using single use plastic bags, get a reusable bag.