Police issue jerseys that have seen better days are set to get a new lease of life - as blankets.
Police have initiated a re-purposing solution with a New Zealand-owned mill to turn old jerseys into unspun fibre, which is then manufactured into blankets for official Police use. The blankets are initially due to be trialled with Wellington’s maritime policing unit and in patrol cars.
The current uniform policy states that all obsolete or faulty items of Police uniform must be returned to be destroyed and disposed of at landfill. Since June 2019, 17 tonnes of uniform items have been returned for disposal in this way.
“Working in partnership with suppliers and other groups to explore ways to achieve broader positive outcomes is important to us, be they environmental, social, economic or cultural," says Manager Procurement and Contract Management Ged Callaghan.
In July 2020, a call went out for old jerseys that could be used for the first test run. Staff answered the call and 145 old jerseys were returned. The Police coat of arms and anything else on the jerseys that wasn't wool was then removed and destroyed by TIMG.
The ‘leftover jersey pieces’ were then sent to Woolyarns, a 74-year-old Lower Hutt-based mill that's usually in the business of turning natural fibres like wool and possum fur into yarn.
"This is certainly a different project for us and we're literally breaking down the jerseys and turning them back into woollen fibre that can be re-purposed into a new product," says Woolyarns' general manager, Andy May.
A prototype hand-knitted beanie was produced initially, then consideration was given to other types of woollen products before deciding on a blanket.
Staff were then canvassed for a name for the blanket and the winner was Āhurutanga, meaning ‘warmth, comfort and security’.