by Georgia Shivnan, Year 13 Student, Kaipara College
The contents of a potato chip packet are consumed in a matter of minutes, yet it takes upwards of eight decades for them to break down in landfills. And with every New Zealander contributing an average of 60 kilograms of plastic to our 327 landfill sites every year, it is evident that we need to be doing more to reduce the amount of waste we produce.
The Chip Packet Project (CPPNZ) was founded in New Zealand in late 2021 and turns empty chip packets – and other foil packaging – into emergency blankets for those who need them. Creating these blankets is relatively simple: the chip packets are washed and cut open to form a single foil sheet. Then, using the heat from a household iron, they are fused together to form one large panel. Often, they are ironed onto a plastic lining to provide further reinforcement. Small holes are created in the sheet to prevent the accumulation of condensation. The blankets typically take the shape of a sleeping bag and mimic the qualities of a standard emergency blanket, reducing heat loss by reflecting the body’s generated heat back to the wearer because of their foil lining. Because of plastic’s durability, these emergency blankets are resistant to weather and are long-lasting.
Ms Kapa, the Business and Innovation teacher at Kaipara College, and her Year 11whanau class are involved in this project. They are currently in the process of collecting chip packets from our students, teachers, and parents and are establishing a system of producing these emergency blankets at school. Their vision is to be able to create and provide these blankets to members of our community who would benefit from them, either directly or through local organisations such as food banks. This project provides an interactive and inexpensive way for students to help our community while simultaneously recycling materials that would otherwise contribute to landfills: a win-win situation, as Ms Kapa described.
CPPNZ currently has 16 collection points across the country where clean foil packaging can be delivered to and recycled into emergency blankets; either for those living on the streets in New Zealand or for those who cannot avoid warm living conditions.
Our closest drop-off point is currently on the North Shore, though additional locations are added regularly as the organisation expands.
Anyone wanting to find out more about this campaign can visit the Chip Packet Project’s Facebook page: @chippacketprojectnz And for the collection of chip packets at Kaipara College, email Ms Kapa at email@example.com.