Plastic fantastic – plastic cross-arms being developed

TransNet is currently developing cross-arms made from recycled plastic.

The cross-arms which are are made from type 2, 4 and 5 plastics – like milk bottles, yogurt containers and bread bags – means plastics can be diverted from landfill in Aotearoa.

The finished cross-arms are 100% recyclable, making them a closed-loop product. Once they reach end-of-life, they can be broken down and manufactured into new cross-arms to be redeployed.

(It is important to note that while the prototype cross-arms are currently made from 100% recycled plastic, network-ready cross-arms may require a component of new plastic for structural purposes - further testing and development will bear this out).

Powerco is currently assisting TransNet by providing information and guidance on standards and technical specifications that the cross-arms will need to meet before they can be used on the electricity distribution network.

TransNet is currently working on testing load-strength and monitoring the performance of the cross-arms when exposed to UV light.

Powerco’s Head of Environment Adam Du Fall says the Powerco team are watching the development of the product with interest.

“We love seeing this kind of kiwi innovation, which is why we’ve offered our support to TransNet as they continue to develop these,” he says.

“Powerco replaces around 5,000 cross-arms across its electricity network each year. We see being able to use a closed-loop product like this, while also helping to reduce plastic waste in New Zealand as a win-win.” 

“In the future, I’d love to see milk bottles and soft plastics used by our team coming back as cross-arms on our network.”

TransNet are New Zealand-owned and operated, providing electricity products to the electricity transmission and distribution industry.

The cross-arms are manufactured by New Zealand-owned Future Post who manufacture 100% recycled plastic fence posts for use in the agricultural sector.

TransNet Managing Director Spencer Winn says the product is looking very promising.

“As a leader in our industry, we like to make things better wherever we can and one area we excel is inventing better products and solutions for our customers and the environment,” he says.  

“Our latest product development is the plastic cross arm.  Still in development but looking very promising, the plastic crossarm is a closed loop product, made from recycled plastic and fully recyclable at end of life. There is no leaching, contamination, or degradation of the material into the environment during its useful life either. Any and all plastic waste we generate from our business can now become part of the crossarm life cycle too. With the supply and sustainability issues surrounding hardwood out of Australia, and deforestation issues in other parts of the world coupled with freight to import these products, the industry needs an alternative with less environmental impact and this plastic cross arm could very well be it.“

TransNet plastic cross arm on display

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