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Sustainable is Attainable in Hawke’s Bay

nelson harper mccains

Hosted by Massey University for the HB Sustainable is Attainable programme, Nelson Harper has been at the McCain Foods in Hastings exploring other uses for corn silage.

An initiative to support and promote better utilisation of waste in the primary production sector is gaining traction with 30 Hawke’s Bay producers and food processors joining forces to minimise, or add value, to the waste they produce.

Through the regional food and beverage programme, led by Dr Nicky Solomon and supported by Hawke’s Bay’s five councils, a Hawke’s Bay version of the Sustainable is Attainable programme has been launched. 

Sustainable is Attainable started in South Canterbury under the banner of Venture Timaru, the district’s economic and visitor agency, in partnership with more than 20 local food processors and manufacturers.  Hawke’s Bay is the second region to get on board with the programme.

The programme aims to develop viable alternatives for the waste and by-products generated during food processing and manufacturing, through collaboration across businesses, universities and research and development organisations.

Dr Solomon said one of the first actions in Hawke’s Bay was bringing in local sustainability experts, 3R Group (with funding from Hastings District Council), to engage and mentor two students to work on the first stage of Sustainable is Attainable over the summer. 

The students were funded by Callaghan Innovation, and a third student was hosted by Massey University and funded by the Bioresource Processing Alliance.

“They worked with participating businesses to collect and collate data on waste and by-products – everything from pallet strapping and tanalised posts to grape marc and corn husks.

“They also researched options for uses for the waste and developed a ‘long-list’ of potential opportunities for the collective of businesses to consider.”

The options were then presented to the 30 participating businesses and other stakeholders at the beginning of this month, and from here working groups will be established to progress those with the highest priority.

One of the immediate opportunities that the students and 3R identified was a collaboration around the collection of black pallet covering from throughout Hawke’s Bay for recycling - a trial is planned involving local packaging company Hawk Group Limited.  Other opportunities include various ways to extract value from grape marc and lees, and options for fruit and vegetable pomaces.

“As more businesses get involved with the programme it is likely that new opportunities will be identified, and we welcome any businesses who want to find out more about what we are doing to get in touch with us,” Dr Solomon said.

The Hawke’s Bay programme remains closely linked with the South Canterbury initiative and both regions are keen to explore pan-regional opportunities and to invite other areas to join the collaboration.

“Although there are obviously some differences between the two regions’ economies, there are huge similarities,” said Dr Solomon.

“It’s exciting to be able to share information and to learn from the South Canterbury experience.

“We’re looking forward to putting our heads together with the wider Sustainable is Attainable team to look at the possibilities for collaboration, as well as focusing on the opportunities that the students’ work has identified.”

The aim is to host students again in the region next summer to develop and expand the programme.

Find out more at Hawke's Bay Business Hub - Sustainable is Attainable Hawke's Bay (



16 February 2022

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