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  • In 2017, Flight Plastics (now called Pact Packaging) closed the recycling loop by opening New Zealand’s first PET wash and recycling plant. PET plastics (plastic products with the RIC number 1) no longer need to be shipped overseas for processing.

    Rights: Flight Plastics

    PET plastic recycling process

    This animated video from Flight Plastics follows Barry, a water bottle, as he journeys from the recycling bin to a new life as a recycled food container.

    In this activity, students are introduced to the PET plastic recycling process. They track a plastic bottle as it is transformed from a waste product to a new food-grade package at the Flight Plastics plant.

    The activity is suitable for NZ Curriculum levels 1 and 2. It uses Ready to Read books and has visual and written literacy components.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • use visual resources to gain information about the plastic recycling process
    • discuss some of the steps involved in processing/recycling a PET plastic item
    • place the steps in the order they are likely to happen
    • consider how recycling fits into the use and reuse of plastics.
    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Discarded plastic bottle

    New Zealanders use and discard approximately 20,000 tonnes of PET plastic each year. Some of it ends up as rubbish in our waterways and beaches.

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • background information for teachers
    • teacher instructions
    • student instructions.

    Related content

    Watch the video Flight Plastics recycling plant in action for a more detailed explanation of the plastic recycling process.

    The Hub activity DIY recycling plant uses Hub video and written resources to design and operate a PET plastic wash and recycling plant, loosely based on the Flight Plastics process. It is suitable for middle and upper primary students.

    Science and literacy – making connections is a recorded webinar that explores the connections between science and literacy learning and how they can be integrated.

    Plastic is a wicked problem. It’s incredibly useful, but it’s also a huge environmental issue. A helpful resource is Thinking about plastic – planning pathways which includes our interactive planning pathway – use this to begin a cross-curricular look at plastics.

    Useful links

    In 2021 the Pact Group acquired Flight Plastics and continues it's work. Visit the Pact Packaging (formerly Flight Plastics) website for more information about its products and its commitment to sustainable environmental actions.

    Visit the Tāhūrangi website for information, including an audio recording, on At the Beach and What Does the Tide Bring In?


    Flight Plastics has a long history in producing plastic packaging, with over 40 years in the plastics industry. The company is New Zealand owned and is committed to constant investment in new technologies and its highly skilled people.

    During the 1970s, Flight Plastics pioneered local production of PET by being the first company in Australasia to produce PET rollstock and thermoformed plastic containers. Now Flight is the first company producing eco-friendly RPET rollstock and finished containers all under one roof.

    The Science Learning Hub acknowledges the collaboration with Flight Plastics in the production of this article.

    Rights: Flight Plastics Ltd

    Flight Plastics Ltd

    Flight Plastics is New Zealand and Australia’s leading independent plastic sheet and packaging manufacturer.

      Published 30 October 2017, Updated 5 July 2024 Referencing Hub articles
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