Over 200K pre-used stakes saved from the bonfire and back in action!

Used bamboo stakes ready for recycling by TET

More than 200,000 used bamboo stakes have been saved from going up in smoke and are now enjoying another lease of life, thanks to a nifty recycling agreement between TET and Waimea Nurseries.

Battle for the Banded Rail’s Kathryn Brownlie recently organised distribution of the stakes on a crisp Friday morning against a very picturesque backdrop! B4BR and the Moutere Restoration projects took the lion’s share but there were still plenty to go around.

“We cast the net a bit wider this year,” says Kathryn. “We [originally] organised this on a smaller scale but we got more inquiries and the projects have grown, so Waimea Nurseries asked that we coordinate it.

“There were at least three lots of people from Project Mohua in Golden Bay who came over the hill with their trailers and they all loaded up,” she says. “And people were helping each other out, picking up a few hundred for friends involved in other projects.”

Empty paddock with church in the background and pallets stacked on one side
The calm before the storm…

Waimea Nurseries keen to see stakes recycled

Sam Townsend, Waimea Nurseries’ Field Tree Production Manager, says the business has been donating its used canes for the last five years and demand has gone through the roof.

“Originally, locals would approach us and ask for a few canes,” she says. “But now that Tasman Environmental Trust is doing all these big [projects], there’s a lot more plantings going on and it’s turned into this really big thing that we’re keen to support.”

Waimea Nurseries use the canes for two seasons before it becomes necessary to discard them.

“At that point, they become too brittle for us; they just snap too much on our bigger trees,” says Sam. “So that’s when we would normally just put them on fire piles, or we’d reuse a few in various areas of the nursery. But the majority would be burned.”

One action; many great results

The benefits of the recycling scheme aren’t limited to keeping more carbon out of the air; Kathryn’s enthusiastic about the financial and other savings as well.

“It’s turning into quite a cool thing,” she says. “It’s going full circle. We’re saving all these community groups from having to buy stakes—some of the smaller ones are telling me they’ve been quoted 30 cents per stake, and at 30 cents times 200,000 we’re talking $60,000 savings to the community.

“But we’re also saving a whole lot of new [stakes] being brought in from China wrapped in plastic, and another shipping container,” she says. “So we’re extending the life [of the stakes] and doing good things for the environment—more than just saving money. And we’re helping pandas, maybe!”

She says this is a great example of leveraging one thing for many good results. “Sure, you can fund a few people, but we’ve just extended that much further,” she says. “And that’s what I think TET is about.”

Loading a truck with used bamboo stakes
Loading up the truck!

“We really want this”

As far as Waimea Nurseries’ Sam Townsend is concerned, it’s a total win-win situation.

“We’re committed to supporting the local tree planting groups and we really want this,” she says. “It’s a much better way of seeing that our canes are going to good use.”

So everyone’s happy—and with Waimea Nurseries celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, there’s even more to be happy about. (Congrats, guys, from everyone at TET!)


One man’s trash is another man’s treasure—if your organisation has something that could be donated to assist the cause of community conservation, please get in touch and we’ll chat about it.

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