The New Zealand Sugar team is on a mission to transition to 100 per cent recyclable packaging by 2025.
The target is one of five sustainability goals the team is committed to achieving to reduce the site's environmental footprint. The others are to reduce energy and water use, CO2 output and waste by 2030.
Two cross-functional teams have been set up to work towards the sustainable packaging and energy reduction targets.
Safety, Health & Environmental Manager Bob Russell is part of the Sustainable Packaging project team and said a trial of paper-only bags for 25kg white sugar was in process, with an end goal of replacing current plastic-lined packaging.
"Sustainable packaging has become a big focus in recent years, as we all become more aware of human impact on the environment," Mr Russell said.
"We're hearing the call for recyclable packaging from our customers, as well as wanting to ensure we're putting out environmentally friendly products.
"One of the first projects involved working with our packaging supplier to replace the plastic liner in our 25kg white sugar bags with a moisture proof paper-based coating that is easily dissolvable in the standard recycling process.
"We sent packed trial bags out to several key customers and have received favourable feedback.
"We are now planning a transition to the recyclable bag, which we expect to have completed by July this year."
The Sustainable Packaging team is already looking into recyclable packaging options for raw and soft brown sugar products.
Operations Manager Russell Fisher said both gas and electricity use were under review by the Energy Reduction team, with plans that include stabilising refinery rate, increasing pan yields and improving boil-out management.
"A primary focus of the Energy Reduction team is to reduce CO2 emissions, and we've developed a pathway to achieve this that involves reducing the baseload use of gas, and future conversion from gas to biomass," Mr Fisher said.
In-line water meters are being installed at Chelsea Sugar Factory to monitor water use in real time and identify potential areas for improvement. Plans are already in place to reduce water use within the factory's carbon plant.