PHOTO: Rui Peng is feeling “thankful” despite the damage to his factory. Photo: Justin Latif

Rui Peng wants to end plastic pollution, but a wild tornado has pushed pause on those dreams for now.

Peng and his business partner Adam Ransfield run Critical, a clean-technology business that takes plastic waste Aucklanders put out on their kerbs and turns it into beautifully designed furniture and products for interior design fit-outs, thanks in part to seed funding from Auckland Council.

The pair had been working since April on setting up a factory in Papatoetoe, which, according to Peng, “is like nothing else in New Zealand or Australia”, and they were days away from beginning large-scale manufacturing. So when the entrepreneurs entered their site on the morning of June 19, Peng admits some tears were shed upon seeing what was left of their roof.

“Initially I just swallowed my emotion, because we had to clean up and get rid of all the hazards,” he says.

“But it wasn’t until later, when we had some mates come around and we were all silent for a bit that I just started to feel everything and had a bit of a sob.