Using plastics to save the environment

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Using plastics to save the environment

By Nicola Field | Photo by Anna Rogers

 

FNQ Plastics is a custom fabrication specialist with an environmental focus and an end goal of reducing waste into landfills. Lesley Van Staveren is quick to point out that the products they sell are either made from recycled plastic or can themselves be recycled.

“We’re educating people that plastic is a good material if it’s used in the right way,” she says, noting that the HDPE tanks sold by the business can be recycled into surprisingly diverse products such as decking or privacy screens.

 

ECO-FRIENDLY OFFICE

As the 2017 Cairns Businesswoman of the Year, Van Staveren brings her eco-friendly approach to the workplace. “We don’t have any single-use products in the office,” she explains. Even employee bonuses are handed out in re-usable keep-cups and, not surprisingly, the entire FNQ Plastics team shares Van Staverens’ passion.

“We have a very strong team, with a pro-active culture where opinions are shared, and everyone gets involved,” she says.

 

BECOMING WASTE WISE

Living on the doorstep of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef has played a role in Van Staveren’s commitment to recycling and waste reduction. “When people see the devastating impact of waste on this pristine environment, they want to have a voice,” she notes.

It’s this voice that Van Staveren is bringing to her community.

A little more than two years ago, she set up the Cairns Committee for Waste Reduction, galvanising locals to get involved. “I picked up the phone and contacted different interest groups, businesses, and people to gather a broad cross-section of ideas,” Van Staveren recalls.

A year later, the Committee is having a big impact at a grassroots level. “We provide workshops, help businesses become waste wise, and later this year we’ll host an awards ceremony to recognise waste wise enterprises.”

 

AN EQUAL PARTNERSHIP

With three children aged under five, Van Staveren admits she couldn’t manage her hectic schedule alone, and it’s the strong, equal partnership she shares with her husband that makes it all possible. But Van Staveren isn’t content to rest on her laurels.

The couple are hoping to open a plastics recycling plant. With an estimated cost of A$4 million it’s an ambitious project, however initial funding under the federal Regional Jobs Investment Package has allowed some early research to go ahead, and now it’s a case of watch this space.

A commitment to sustainability has allowed Van Staveren to build a strong team and a healthy business while also giving back to the community she loves. But what of those raised eyebrows when she mentions she owns a plastics business? “It’s certainly a conversation starter,” Van Staveren laughs. “But it also brings the human element back to the issue of recycling – and that’s a good thing.”

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