John Fisken is a third-generation animal feed maker at H.R. Fisken & Sons in rural Pukekohe, south of Auckland. When John discovered that we’re unknowingly consuming 5 grams of plastic a week – that’s like eating a credit card – he decided it was time to act.
“I read that micro plastic particles are now showing up in our food, our bodies* and our pets. That sounded serious and I set about researching it. I discovered that not only is microplastic contamination now in all our major organs, but the chemicals in the plastic in our bodies may well be damaging to our health. What’s more, scientists worry that the plastic particles in our bodies could turn out to be carcinogenic irritants, like asbestos. I don’t want to leave that legacy to leave to my children and their children. So I decided to take action on our plastic bags!”
Animal feed in NZ is a large industry, feeding calves, horses, chickens, birds, goats and other animals. Most packaged feed – except from Fiskens – comes in plastic bags. That’s tens of millions of polypropylene bags a year. These bags often have a shiny coating to enable printing colourful images and branding. Marketers love them. But our environment doesn’t. These bags break down into tiny microplastic particles and that cause massive problems. The particles are damaging to most life forms – from humans to pets to fish.
Plastic in Our Food
These tiny plastic particles are now in our water, in the air and even in our food chain. What’s worse, plastic feed bags – polypropylene – have been difficult to recycle, especially in large numbers. But – recycling isn’t really that helpful as it just keeps plastic in our environment for longer. It doesn’t reduce the amount of plastic in our environment. Recycled plastic in our environment continues to break down into tiny micro-particles.
John Fisken added:
”We’ve been making feed for horses, chickens, calves and goats since 1957.
Back then, my grandfather used natural, recyclable, bio-degradable hessian bags for our feed and an entire industry sprang up devoted to collecting, washing and re-selling the bags. Green before their time! Then plastic bags came along. They were so much cheaper that they took the entire market.
The hessian bag industry vanished. Even now, plastic is cheapest – our new paper bags cost us twice as much as plastic bags.”
Another Green Inspiration
One day last summer, John Fisken was standing outside looking at his feed mill, and he was struck by the size of the roof area. An idea started forming – how to harness all that roof space and all that sunshine. He’s just installed Solar Panels – 200 of them! NZ’s first Solar-Powered stockfeed manufacturer! With enough surplus to feed back to the national grid.
John said: “On a sunny day, our new solar panels generate more than 4X the power used by the average NZ household. That’s enough electricity to produce our feed AND send some to the national grid – we’re a net electricity generator! And it’s all clean, renewable energy.
We’ve set up a cool digital display in the Shop Entrance. People can see in real time the power being generated by the sun and our atmospheric CO2 emission savings, compared to conventional power.”
Fiskens Feeds in paper bags are available from Fiskens in Pukekohe, online and from feed and farm supply stores around NZ – https://hrfisken.co.nz/
Media Release on 1 December 2020
John Fisken, HR Fisken and Sons Ltd
Phone: 021 638 864