2 Feb 2024

Chip packet thermal blankets ramping up production

From Checkpoint, 5:46 pm on 2 February 2024

A charity using recycled chip packets to make thermal blankets wants to ramp up production with predictions even more kiwi families will be in the cold come winter.

The chip project uses cleaned and dried potato chippy packaging to make the light weight foil blankets - that are like the ones emergency services use.

The charity estimates more than 250,000 of the blankets could be needed this year with many households struggling with the cost of living and heating options beyond their budgets.

Chip Packet Project founder Terrena Griffiths said to increase the volume of blankets needed more manpower and machinery was also needed.

"That piece of machinery would be an iron roller so we could change a component of making those blankets that currently takes 90 minutes, if I got an iron roller then I could ramp it up from 90 minutes to 12 - that would be a game changer to get them out the door."

It was not only chip packets that could be used but other foil packaging such as that used for crackers and biscuits could be used, she said.

"So we take 25 of those packets, they're nice and clean and washed and dry and we fuse them together with a bit of heat to make a blanket 1.2 by 2 metres rectangle."

Mitre 10 then provides some pallet topper plastic which the blankets are encased in and when the roller is used, she said.

It takes four hours to make every blanket and the work is all done by volunteers and by hand, she said.

"Last year we managed to make 500 blankets, that's just over 27,000 pieces of foil that have been diverted from landfill."

Every piece of foil takes 80 years to decompose in landfill, she said.

The cost of living crisis has meant that many people are living in "energy poverty" and that looked set to increase, she said.

The blankets are "really toasty" and reflect the heat towards you when it is cold, but also the heat away from you when it is very hot, she said.

"Every piece of foil that we have has been donated by wonderful people in the community who are concerned for our environment, but also concerned for our Kiwis."

People need to wash and dry their packets and there are then 29 collection points around the country where they can be picked up, she said.