Rotorua students that helped save 30 tonnes of plastic call on others to follow suit

The Rotorua trio who campaigned to get rid of plastic breadbag tags are calling on other school kids to pick up the challenge and try to become Fair Go Consumer Heroes in 2021.

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Garth Bray catches up with the trio from Rotorua who convinced Tip Top Bread, Burgen and Ploughman’s, among others, to ditch plastic tags for cardboard. Source: Fair Go

“The thing I would say most to other kids is, if you want to do something, just go for it,” says Jennika Kumar, from Malfroy School.

Her Montessori classmates Snigdha Raikar and Amelia Foote-Webb are bowled over by the impact of their 10-month journey, capped off with a return visit to George Weston Foods’ Auckland factory.

There, they witnessed the first production run using new recycled and recyclable cardboard bread tags on its Ploughmans Bakery and Bürgen ranges with its Tip Top bread to follow in the next 12 months.

“The coolest thing that has happened is that they released the cardboard bread tags so early and it's just better,” says Snigdha.

GWF had planned to make the change in 2025, after rolling out new machinery in its Australian plants, but convinced its board to go early in Aotearoa after the girls approached the company with their questions on sustainability.

The results have had a huge impact – 30 tonnes a year of hard plastic won’t be heading to landfill, years early. What’s more rival bakers have accelerated their plans for recycled and recyclable tags meaning the day will come sooner when close to 70 tonnes of plastic tags will no longer be manufactured each year.

Amelia sums up the impact this experience also had on her:

“The coolest thing about this was feeling like I had changed something that was important.”

Ka takoto te manuka, ākuanei – soon, we will be laying down the challenge.

Stand by for details of the 2021 Fair Go Consumer Heroes competition and start thinking.

What could you change with the power of positive journalism and some creative thinking?