Interesting connections start to align for good and benefits stack up all round when you make protecting the environment an integral part of your business philosophy.

That’s what QPOD® discovered after searching for a more sustainable option to replace polystyrene, which, back in 2000, was gaining momentum for use with concrete raft foundations. The problem with polystyrene they say, is that when it’s cut, inevitably, beads spread far and wide contaminating our environment and waterways.

Peter Crawshaw is General Manager of Castle, a family-owned Hawke’s Bay-based company that has manufactured cutting edge plastic moulded products for the construction industry since 1988. Peter and the family decided to utilise the company’s technology to repurpose a significant amount of plastic waste that was otherwise destined for landfill.

“We developed the QPOD system, a more efficient, ecologically friendly alternative to the traditional concrete raft foundation system. With ribs at 1200mm centres it reflects the standard detailing in raft systems that existed already with a hollow plastic shell made from 100 per cent recycled repurposed plastic waste. The raft methodology adopted is a tried and true system, suitable for the wide ranging New Zealand ground conditions.”

A lengthy process of development refined the shape and design to optimise the slab for the best materials usage and to maintain its strength. Allied Concrete has embraced the QPOD system and incorporated the product into its CodeMark-certified READY Super Slab system.

At the same time, Astro Hospitality, a leading local supplier of products like shampoos and soaps to the hotel market, had embarked on a similar journey aimed at sustainability. The company established The Hotel Weka programme to stop plastic bottle and tube waste from more than 6000 guest rooms going into landfills.

The challenge to minimising their waste footprint was finding someone to recycle the empty containers and turn them into something useful and permanent that they could be certain would not end up being shipped to a landfill offshore. QPOD was the perfect solution, allowing Astro Hospitality and the hotel teams to see exactly how their products were being recycled.

As a customer of Astro Hospitality, Greg Biggs who works at NZ Post in Nelson became aware of Astro’s initiatives around recycling plastics and was impressed.

“I’m quite a sustainability-minded guy and was in the process of building a house. In my business, I have a lot of customers who use polystyrene in their logistics and I know the footprint it leaves on our planet, so I was excited at the thought of finding an alternative.”

“We were looking at an installation that would perform well in an energy efficient way for a passive home. Polystyrene seemed popular. I think it’s because they don’t yet know about alternatives such as the QPOD system. QPOD was a better solution for me.”

Greg is not a tradie. But he has done a bit of building and was given the opportunity to install the system himself. He found the whole process was streamlined and easy to use, exactly as promised. “It was like Lego. It clicked together perfectly. My wife and I did the whole thing in a day without any hitches at all. It proves you don’t have to be a foundation contractor to put this down fast and efficiently and by allowing me to be involved in the foundation, it gave me awesome ownership of the project.”

Greg continues: “When we’d finished putting the floor in, there was no evidence of trash; no polystyrene flying around the site.”

As far as Greg is concerned, if you’re building, it should be with a system like QPOD.

“With all the focus on the environment, there’s justification to legislate against trying to get rid of waste offshore and making it someone else’s problem.”

Unlike polystyrene, QPODs are hollow which means they can easily be stacked and transported on a ute and trailer. “It’s a pleasant change from a full truck and trailer load of polystyrene,” explains Peter.

The product comes tightly packed, stacked on a couple of pallets. The pods are simply placed next to one another to form a grid with reinforcing bars between them. The concrete is then poured as normal on top. While the cost per metre is slightly higher than polystyrene, that is more than offset by time savings around installation time and transport logistics. With a modular system you don’t have to make cuts, nor do you need bar chairs on top of the product to hold the steel mesh in place.

Support is excellent with downloadable FAQs on the QPOD website and the team is always available to answer any questions or help through Zoom meetings or in person. For every project, they supply a full layout plan with all accessories required.

“A lot of things make it much easier to use as a whole system and we follow up until the job is complete,” says Peter.

Learn more about incorporating the QPOD system into your next project.