Transformation Areas

This story reflects success in the highlighted areas.

Nelmac’s SmartRaft: removing excess nutrients from waterways

Nelmac’s innovative SmartRaft is a buoyant raft made from recycled plastic bottles that is embedded with aquatic plants and a suspended root system. The plants take up nutrients around the clock, cleaning the body of water they’re floating in.

Nelson-based Nelmac is a New Zealand-owned, managed and operated provider of integrated environment solutions. It prefers to take the long view with its work, seeking out sustainable outcomes, and managing every stage of its business to guard social, cultural, environmental and economic health (a set of outcomes it sees as inextricably bound together).

The SmartRaft keeps down the build-up of algae and sediment in water bodies, thereby helping maintain a long-term ecological balance. It is ideal for lakes, ponds, estuaries, and slow-moving streams where water can otherwise stagnate. It’s also a pretty solution – fostering a plant habitat that encourages a diverse population of birds, fish and insects, and treating water more efficiently than traditional wetlands.

SmartRafts are built for resilience, work in deeper water, and require virtually no maintenance after installation. With a pressing need to improve and restore the country’s waterways, SmartRaft presents a novel, effective chance to tackle a problem that threatens our clean and green way of life. 

Nelmac was a finalist in the Restorative Innovation category at the 2013 NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.