News | 8 November 2023
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Rehome the foam with City Archives

Wellington City Archives is a place where Wellington's documents, objects, and artworks are able to live on. Now, this opportunity for preservation has been extended, with Wellington’s packaging waste finding new life and a new home at the Archives building at 28 Barker Street.  

Woman holding up a big bag of foam.

Years ago, the Archives tīma (team) received several boxes of cardboard poster tubes. They proved a useful packaging commodity, but come mid-2023 supplies began to run low. 

With the Council committed to reducing waste to landfill through its Zero Waste Strategy, Archivist Georgina Parker suggested City Archives reach out to Wellington City Council kaimahi (staff), and to Wellingtonians via the Zero Waste Wellington Facebook page, to see if they could source existing packaging tubes, rather than purchasing new ones.  

It was an idea that saved ratepayers’ dollars and diverted waste from our piling landfill, with City Archives receiving hundreds of cardboard tubes from across Pōneke and as far away as Petone.  

Shelves within the Archives.
Fresh shelves of waste-reduced archival storage!

Buoyed with a climate positive spring in their step, the tīma began to consider other ways they could look to reduce waste at mahi (work). While out on a walk, Georgina noticed that the Council Parking Team had recently installed new pay-by-plate meters across Pōneke.  

The new meters on Barker Street were wrapped in the same polyethylene foam Archives used for packaging, just cut to different dimensions. The tīma use foam to cushion archival items, hold small objects still in boxes, and fill voids to reduce the amount of air/oxygen inside packaging, says Georgina. 

“Adrian, the Team Leader of the City Archives, and I realised that there must be lots of posts around the city, and investigated whether we could get hold of some of it for packaging purposes. I sent an email to the Parking Team explaining the situation.”  

Woman holding up two big bags of foam.
Wellington City Archivist Georgina was over the moon to receive useful packaging that would otherwise have ended up in the landfill.

Parking was only too happy to offer City Archives discarded packaging from the new meters, Georgina says.  

“I spoke to two very helpful and friendly contractors while they were installing a new meter on Barker Street. They explained that the boxes, bubble wrap and all other materials they were using had found new homes, but they’d been unable to find anyone that wanted to ‘rehome the foam’.  

“I pointed out our building and they said they’d happily drop off the foam as it came free. They immediately left me with two big boxes of foam and since then, we’ve had several more deliveries from our parking contractors – and from a variety of other contractors as word got around, which has been brilliant.” 

This is just one of the initiatives within Wellington City Council to reach our goal of being net zero by 2050 as part of our plan Te Atakura – First to Zero, and reducing waste to landfill by half by 2030. Due to the effort of our City Archives team, this initiative has diverted more than 200 large cardboard tubes and over 1,000 pieces of foam from the landfill. 

Find out more about Te Atakura – First to Zero, He anamata para kore mō Pōneke – A zero waste future for Wellington, or check out the City Archives.