A Yachtie, Floating Rubbish and Deane’s Plan for Plastics


The Deane team has more than its fair share of lucky people who have a passion outside work and get to act on it in the office every day. James Stonyer, our Divisional Manager – Commercial, is one of them.

James is ex-Navy and a bit of a sailing nut. He’s been sailing the Hauraki Gulf for, well, longer than he wants anyone to know; his happy place is his 33-foot keeler, Mathias

It’s sailing that to a large extent triggered James’ interest in plastics. Specifically, in getting rid of them.

Over time, James and his sailing mates have been finding more and more plastics in the waters of the gulf. “When we’re out on Mathias, there are plastics floating everywhere,” he says. “It’s worse at certain beaches where the current takes the plastic; there’s a spot at Rakino Island, for example, where the currents just seem to swirl and dump incredible amounts of it. We read all the time about microplastics in fish. My reaction: It’s terrible.”

James scoops up floating plastic where he can and has a permanent recycling bag on board Mathias, but it’s at work where he’s making the biggest gains. He leads Deane’s plastic reduction programme, an initiative that was informed by a 2019 audit with the Sustainable Business Network and formalised as a strategic plan later that year. The goal, he says, is to get rid of as much plastic as possible and there’s no shortage of opportunities.

“Shirt packaging clips were an early target,” he explains. “We could stop most of those straight away. We got rid of personal rubbish bins in the office and replaced them with recycling bins. Our business cards used to be laminated but we stopped those a while ago. And if you join us for morning tea in our Auckland office, your plate will be cardboard, not plastic, and there’s definitely no plastic cutlery.”

Most recently, James homed in on the plastic bags that Deane’s polo shirts used to come in. They’ve been replaced with biodegradable band roll. Next up: transitioning Deane’s offshore suppliers to compostable courier and garment bags, and carton liners. These have all been written into our specifications and there are early signs that our suppliers are coming on board.

Where is Deane on the journey? “It’s hard to say,” James reckons. “We keep on discovering new things we can do. Based on our initial targets we’re over halfway, but then I come into the office and spot more plastic ... it seems to come out of the woodwork as our team becomes more aware. There’s plenty to either replace with compostable plastic or cardboard, or to remove altogether. At the end of the day, we've got a rare opportunity to take plastics out of the supply chain at the commercial scale. We take a step, see it implemented and move on to the next step. When we get it all to work, it's deeply satisfying."