Alumni Q&A: Paul Charteris

19 May 2022

Paul is the co-founder and CEO of saveBOARD, a low carbon sustainable building materials company whose ambition is to upcycle as much packaging and construction waste into building materials as possible.

  • Paul Charteris

Paul is the Co-founder and CEO of saveBOARD, a low carbon sustainable building materials company. Their sole purpose is to solve the growing packaging waste problem in Australasia through implementation of proven, scalable upcycling technologies that turn locally collected waste into locally distributed, recyclable building products. They produce low carbon building materials made from upcycled packaging.

saveBOARD locally manufactures healthy, affordable, high performance building materials that make a circular economy an everyday reality. The company is using disruptive innovation to change the way we utilise waste in New Zealand and to promote onshore recycling of waste and to up-cycle into high performing building materials. They are a collective group who want to make a difference to the environment, are socially responsible while generating a sustainable return on our investment.

Paul’s ambition is to upcycle as much packaging and construction waste into building materials as possible. He came upon the technology in the US, secured the Asia Pacific rights, and brought in heavy-hitting partners Freightways, Tetra Pak and sustainable solutions outfit Closed Loop to make it happen. Backed by a $2.7million investment by Freightways plus other investors has raised over $10million of private equity; saveBOARD opened a first plant at Te Rapa in November 2021 that’s capable of converting 4000 tonnes of waste a year into 200,000 desperately needed construction boards. The first Australian plant in Sydney opens in October 2022 and in Brisbane in 2023.

Why did you choose to study a BE (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering and why at UC?

I wanted to become an engineer as I enjoyed understanding how things worked and science and math subjects at school. At that time (1996)  Auckland and Canterbury were the only Engineering schools. UC was the easy choice as I enjoy the outdoors, especially mountain biking and snowboarding.

As the co-founder and CEO of saveBOARD, what does your position involve?

As the founder and CEO of a start-up business, my role involves everything from recruitment of staff, sales and deal making to overseeing operations through to growth opportunities. Over time I will be able to hire and delegate more of these tasks; however right now I’m hands on with all aspects of the business.

We are doing something completely different and disrupting the construction industry with a circular economy solution for building materials. It’s a daily challenge that I enjoy and I get the greatest satisfaction when new users of our products give us positive feedback.

Has your career evolved the way you expected?

Yes and no. I didn’t have a specific career plan but have been lucky enough to work for some great companies and leaders to help get to where I am today. I haven’t ever specialised in one area, instead I’ve made most of my career decisions based on where I want to live and specific project opportunities.

What did you enjoy about studying at UC?

Initially, I probably enjoyed the social aspects more than studying, but did eventually find the balance between the two. Living in R&R Hall in my first year was a really positive experience, and along with my involvement in ENSOC, I made lifelong friends who are still connected 20+ years later.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying Engineering? 

Studying engineering taught me perseverance and a ‘never give up attitude' as it involves a lot of work and requires you to apply yourself to learning new concepts in a relatively short amount of time.

It’s important to find the balance between study, social and community time and just enjoy this period of your life and time at UC.

I would also recommend participating in internships. I was able to work on two significant construction projects during my time at UC and this was fantastic exposure for a young engineer in training.

What motivates / inspires you?

I love a challenge and want to do my part in making the world a better place and saveBOARD is my contribution to the planet.

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