Reuse Aotearoa was born in 2020, founded by Kim Renshaw (Beyond the Bin), Hannah Blumhardt (The Rubbish Trip, Takeaway Throwaways) and Kelly McClean (CommonKind, Aurecon), who shared hopes and dreams for a future where reusable packaging was commonplace in New Zealand.

The three co-founders worked together to map out potential activities that could support the development, growth and scaling up of reusable systems locally.

At a time when many are looking to move their product offering up the waste hierarchy and go circular, reuse is back on the table – but there has been a challenge with how and where? A key problem identified early, was the lack of visibility on reusable packaging systems in use in Aotearoa and the opportunities for reuse in different applications and sectors – including B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer). 

They quickly invited in a superstar team of advisors to explore the organisational structure and strategic direction.

The team saw a gap in evidence-based research within the Aotearoa context and set out to build independent research capability and capacity to address this need.

Reuse Aotearoa received funding in 2021 from Tauranga City Councils Resource Wise Fund, to undertake research into the opportunity for reusable packaging in Tauranga. This first report, released in June 2022, sets the scene for reusable packaging across the motu. Six sectors received focused attention and businesses interviewed from each sector. The report resulted in three recommendations chapters, each for industry, local and central government. 

From there, Nelson City and Tasman District Councils approached Reuse Aotearoa, seeking a similar report, tailored to their region. Reuse Aotearoa delivered their second report in August 2022, for the councils.

Reuse Aotearoa is currently undertaking research for Āmiomio Aotearoa on ways to measure reusable packaging impact in the Grocery sector, and Waikato Regional Council, investigating the packaging type in the region, specific to the agricultural sector, and the role of and opportunity for the resource recovery sector in managing reusable packaging systems.

Reuse Aotearoa also has a dedicated kaupapa Māori researcher Matt Peryman, dedicated to investigating reusable packaging from a mātauranga Māori perspective, as part of the Āmiomio project.

Along with evidence-based research, Reuse Aotearoa also have two other areas of focus: communicating evidence-based research and brokering collaboration. This could look like webinars, blogs and presentations, and workshops or working groups.

With a list of five active research projects and thirteen projects on the to-do list, Reuse Aotearoa is a rapidly growing social enterprise, with a clear mission and focus. We are grateful to all of the organisations supporting us, including our incredible advisory committee and dedicated team of workers.