Going Full Circle: Household recycling supports healthier trees

Published: 24 March 2023

A new and innovative tree planting and staking solution, made from Victoria’s household recycling is improving the health of young trees – and supporting Victoria's sustainable future. Tree stakes, traditionally made from timber, are used to support the establishment of a young tree in the ground.

Recycling innovation

Rob and Tim Buruma, founders of Natural Growth Partners, were frustrated at seeing trees being planted using non-sustainable methods after more than 3 decades working as commercial landscapers. So they set out to make tree stakes from a readily available resource – your household recycling.

Cleverly named Tree Coach, their tree stakes rely on Victorians to recycle correctly.

“Correct recycling means more things can be recovered and turned into new things like Tree Coach.”

Tree Coach

One full 240 litre household mixed recycling bin will make 3 units of Tree Coach – each unit includes 3 tree stakes and one watering bowl from recycled plastic.

“Using recycled plastics to plant the trees is the best thing for the tree because it produces a flexible stake that works with the tree to create a stronger root plate and trunk.”

When harvesting hardwood to produce tree stakes, a minimum 50% of the tree is not used and goes to waste, being burned for fuel in other industries.

By using recycled plastics, environmental impacts of using new or raw materials, like tree hardwood are reduced, helping to save trees and the planet.

The pair began a journey to help improve the health of trees and deliver long-lasting benefits to the Victorian community.

According to Natural Growth Partners, their Tree Coach solution with recycled plastic tree stakes and watering bowl provides up to 25% water savings compared to timber stakes. Plus the stakes can be reused for other trees or recycled.

Over one year, a mature tree will absorb approximately 22 kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange.  In established green spaces, temperature reductions can be up to 8 degrees Celsius cooler, saving people money and power (due to better shade provisions).

“We can all recycle correctly by doing small acts like putting the recycling in the bin loose and not in bags. Even the smallest act can make a big impact when it comes to a sustainable future.”
Rob Buruma

Why it matters

Currently, 16% of Victorians put their recycling in plastic bags, making it a major contaminant in household recycling bins.

Contaminants are items placed in the wrong bin. Contamination can damage sorting and processing equipment and risk worker safety. In some cases, recyclable or compostable materials end up going to landfill if there are too many contaminants in the collection load. Approximately 125,000 tonnes of contaminated recycling were sent to landfill across January 2021 to December 2021 (Recovered Resources Market Bulletin, February 2022).

Sustainability Victoria’s A small act makes a big impact campaign is helping all Victorians to recycle more as new food and garden organics and glass recycling services are rolling out across the state in coming years.

Read our tips to put your recycling in the bin loose and not in bags.

Find small acts that work for you

There are many easy ways to reduce waste and recycle more. Find a small act that works for you and be part of Victoria’s sustainable future.