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Council to consider significant changes to waste management in Buller

27 Jul 2023

A collaborative approach to managing solid waste in the West Coast will be considered by council next week. 

A staff report, to be tabled at Monday’s meeting (31 July), recommends changes to the Waste Management System in Buller from February 2025 onward. Some elements of the proposed changes will require consultation with the local community. 

Key changes involve the three West Coast district councils, Westland, Grey and Buller, working on a joint collaborative solid waste contract that provides a consistent level of service. Ongoing governance of the tender agreement will be managed by a new Joint Committee made up of representatives of the three district councils and local iwi.   

Coordinator Waste Management Juliana Ruiz says: “This covers the management of kerbside collection, transfer stations, recycling centres and landfills. Buller’s current solid waste contract expires in February 2024 and will be extended by a year to allow time to set up the new contract.”  

In addition, Council is proposing changes to the household collection services for recycling and waste management zone one.  

The changes involve switching from rubbish bags to bins and changing how residents pay for their rubbish collection. As this is a significant change, council needs to consult with the community under the Local Government Act 2002.   

For the large majority of properties in zone one, this would mean:   

  • A shift from using 60 litre rubbish bags to having a 120 litre wheelie bin provided by Council.    
  • Mandatory rubbish and recycling collection.    
  • Changing from weekly to fortnightly collection of rubbish.    
  • Paying for rubbish and recycling collection through rates (rather than buying rubbish bags).   

What are the cost implications for zone one? 

Zone one households that are currently receiving the fortnightly kerbside recycling collection service are charged via a targeted rate of $178 annually.   

Rubbish bags, which can be purchased for $9.10 each, are collected weekly. For a household that uses one bag per week, this adds up to $473 per year. For households that use one bag fortnightly, for example, this is $236.   

Under the proposed changes, households serviced by the kerbside rubbish and recycling service would face an estimated combined total cost of between $375 and $450* per annum via rates.    

*The final cost would be determined via the tender agreement to provide the service.

Note, the operation of the Karamea and the Maruia Landfill recycling centres would be included in the new regional contract under the proposal, however, the level of services in both areas would remain as it is. It would be the day-to-day running of the landfill sites that changes to one common West Coast-wide contractor under the new system. 

What could amalgamating West Coast waste management services look like? 

The report to council states a single regional joint waste management services contract will bring economies of scale, value for money and a reduction in administration costs. Key elements include: 

  • Ownership of assets - landfills and transfer stations - would remain with each council. 
  • Westport and Reefton Transfer Stations and Recycling Centres become Council businesses operated by a contractor on behalf of the Council, ensuring Council keeps the profit from recyclables and saleable items to offset the cost-of-service provision. The refuse and transfer stations are currently owned by council, but operated and managed privately under a lease arrangement. Their future management would become part of the new joint contract.  
  • The service provider of the new Regional Waste Management contract will be determined by a tender process.    
  • Ongoing governance of the tender agreement will be managed by a new Joint Committee made up of representatives of the three West Coast district councils and local iwi.   

“Overall, we see that the proposed new waste management system would offer a range of benefits including reducing operational costs, maximising economies of scale, raising Council incomes from transfer stations and possible revenues from recyclables, and combatting illegal dumping. 

“The changes will align Buller District with other Councils on the West Coast and with most Councils across New Zealand,” says Ms Ruiz. 

Upcoming consultation 

If the proposal is accepted by Council on Monday, a consultation process will begin shortly afterwards. 

Residents will be asked if they support the proposed changes to rubbish collection services in zone one. Community feedback opens on Monday 7 August and closes at 4.30pm on Monday 4 September 2023.   

Under the proposal, kerbside collection of recycling and rubbish is mandatory, for qualifying properties in zone one. Currently not all properties in zone one that are serviced by kerbside recycling are using the service. This would change under the new system. 

“Mandatory participation will produce economies of scale, as there will be more users paying for the same provision. It will make the service viable into the future,” says Ms Ruiz. 

“Ideally, we would like to see all the elements of the plan adopted – the coast-wide amalgamation of waste services and the changes to zone one’s service - but we will take on board the feedback we receive in the coming weeks. “ 

“We appreciate there is a lot there for people to absorb and we will make sure there is a good range of ways to access information on what is involved, once we get the go ahead from council to proceed.” 


For further information please contact: 
Coordinator Waste Management 
Juliana Ruiz 

Note to editors 

Zone one covers urban Westport and Reefton, the areas from Westport to the Mōkihinui Bridge, Westport to Punakaiki, Westport to Reefton including Blacks Point, and Reefton to Ikamatua. 

To find out more about refuse and recycling zones, go to refuse and recycling zones. 

Mandatory zone one kerbside collection services would only be for properties located on roads on the kerbside collection vehicle route:  

  • Westport, Carters Beach and Reefton urban areas. 
  • SH67 from Westport to Sedonville area. 
  • SH67A from Buller Bridge to Cape Foulwind. 
  • SH6 Buller Gorge Road and Coast Road. 
  • SH69 from Inangahua to Black Points. 
  • SH7 from Reefton to Ikamatua. 

Properties located outside of the set collection routes can still choose to be included in the collection network. They will need to take their bins to the nearest main road where the collection service operates.