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Food and green waste collection on the West Coast

Between 8 July and 29 July 2024, Buller, Grey, and Westland District Councils want to hear from West Coasters about their current ways of dealing with food and green waste and their preferences for collecting it in urban centres.

Central government announced in May 2023 that by 2030, all district and city councils must collect food waste (or combined food and green waste) for households in urban areas with a population of over 1,000.

This will apply to Westport, Reefton, Greymouth, and Hokitika, but Runanga and Carters Beach may also be included. 

The three West Coast District Councils have joined forces with Development West Coast and the Ministry for the Environment to explore the topic and frame up options for how food and green waste collection could work in urban centres from 2030 onwards.  

To understand people’s current attitudes and behaviours, West Coasters are encouraged to participate in the region-wide food and green waste survey.

The survey will be live between 8 July and 29 July 2024 and only take five minutes. 

This will help your Council understand the situation on the West Coast and evaluate the potential demand for collection and processing services. This is your chance to have your say right from the start. 

Have your say

Individuals, organisations, and businesses can participate in the survey. The more people participate, the more information we gather - the better we can plan. It is a fantastic chance for people coast-wide to bring in their voice right from the get-go.


Submissions can be completed online. Click here.

Download the paper submission form here. The form is also available from the councils’ offices and libraries in Grey, Westland, and Buller. Completed paper surveys can be posted to each council or dropped off at the Westport, Reefton, Greymouth, and Hokitika council offices.

Buller District Council  

PO Box 21 
Westport 7866 

Ph: 0800 807 239 

Grey District Council  

PO Box 382 

 Greymouth 7840 

Ph:03 769 8600 

Westland District Council  

Private Bag 704 

Hokitika 7842  

council@westlanddc.govt.nzPh: 0800 474 834  

Email your filled-out feedback form to your district council with the subject “Food and green waste collection”. You can find the email address below.

Return your paper feedback form to the mail slot at your district council office. 

Buller District Council  

PO Box 21 
Westport 7866 

Ph: 0800 807 239 

Grey District Council  

PO Box 382 

 Greymouth 7840 

Ph:03 769 8600 

Westland District Council  

Private Bag 704 

Hokitika 7842  

council@westlanddc.govt.nzPh: 0800 474 834  

Visit your Council’s website or grab some information from the Council’s offices and libraries in your district. You can email with the subject “Food and green waste collection” if you have any questions. 

Frequently asked questions

Want to know more? Please read our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about food and green waste on the West Coast and in Aotearoa.

Food scraps and wasted food are currently disposed of with general household rubbish. This rubbish is transported to landfills for disposal, creating emissions and added cost for ratepayers.   


Food and green waste collection could be one way to reduce the amount of waste in landfills. However, to make it work, we need to find collection and processing solutions that fit our region. Therefore, the survey is crucial. 


New Zealand-wide, more than 300,000 tonnes of food scraps and wasted food are sent to landfills every year, rotting and producing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. This is approximately 30 – 40% of the waste that ends up in landfills nationwide. Waste audits completed in Buller and Grey in 2018 showed that these figures are broadly consistent with the national average, with 49% of kerbside waste being food waste.   


In the big picture, reducing food waste sent to landfills is a critical step if Aotearoa New Zealand is to meet its emissions reduction target of decreasing waste-caused methane gas by 40 per cent by 2035. 

Across New Zealand, more than 300,000 tonnes of food waste are sent to landfills annually. Waste audits completed by Buller and Grey 2018 showed that 49% of kerbside waste was food waste.  

Reducing the amount of food waste in landfills will have multiple benefits, including: 

  • saving costs through less waste transportation and disposal  

  • reducing the amount of methane gas that is produced, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions 

  • reducing the overall volume of waste going into landfills, extending the operational life of existing facilities

Organic material—such as food or green waste—does not need to go to landfills. Instead, it can be used for other purposes. 

For example, food waste can be turned into compost (or other products), used as stock food, or used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion. Unused food can be donated to food rescue groups instead of going into the bin. Diverting food and garden waste from landfills reduces costs and is better for our people and the environment.

Food waste includes fruits and vegetables and their skins, peelings and scraps (e.g., onion skins, potato peelings, avocado stones and corn cobs), grain and cereal products, meat and fish scraps including bones, cooked foods, leftover takeaways, processed foods, dairy products, and shellfish and their shells.

Green waste includes garden waste like lawn clippings, weeds, leaves, flowers, and small branches.


Paper-based materials (such as paper towels, paper packaging materials, and cardboard) cannot be collected in any food waste or garden waste collection due to poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS) that can be found in fibre-based products as well as recycled paper and cardboard.  

If these PFAS-containing materials are used in composting processes, they can accumulate in the soil, plants and the food chain. 

Newspapers and cardboard can also introduce contaminants, such as inks containing heavy metals and microplastics.  

However, kerbside collection can still divert some paper and cardboard from landfills. This includes pizza boxes with food scraps removed, cardboard (including egg cartons), and newspaper.


In March 2023, the previous Government announced that it would develop policies to help shift towards a circular economy that reduces waste and keeps materials in use for as long as possible. 


A circular economy aims to create new employment and business opportunities, improve the ability to dispose of waste responsibly and reduce waste disposal costs for households and businesses. 


As part of this, the previous Government announced a policy requiring district and city councils to collect food scraps (or food and garden waste) for households in urban areas with over 1,000 people by 2030.  


This policy had not been drafted into regulations before the government changed in 2023. The development of a regulation that will bring this policy into force is now awaiting further decisions by the current Government. 

Should the current Government pass the policy into regulation, it will apply to urban areas with more than 1,000 people, including Westport, Reefton, Greymouth, and Hokitika. Runanga and Carters Beach may also be included. 

For more information, visit:  

Councils must understand people's current attitudes and behaviours around food and green waste on the West Coast. This knowledge will be gathered through bin audits and a survey from June to July 2024 as part of a feasibility study undertaken by the three West Coast District Councils, Development West Coast, and the Ministry for the Environment. 

The feasibility study will give councils clarity on critical topics that need to be considered before progressing the planning.  

The study will outline a preferred approach for food scraps and green waste kerbside collection, the ideal bin sizes, and the optimum collection frequency, and it will identify suitable regional organic waste processing options. Options for processing facilities need to consider regional particularities, the quantities generated, weather impacts and the potential uses for the end products created in these facilities. 

The study will also examine how these facilities could be established, focusing on either one centralised facility or multiple facilities distributed across the West Coast. Lastly, it will cover potential markets for, and end users of, these products.   

Dextera Ltd, a local company with expertise in environmental science and project management, will conduct the study. Whirika Ltd, a Dunedin-based company specialising in sustainability and waste management, will provide technical specialist support. 

The study is expected to be completed by May 2025. Based on its outcome, all parties involved will decide on the next steps, which will likely include a business case.

The three West Coast District Councils – Buller, Grey, and Westland, are working collaboratively with the Ministry for the Environment and Development West Coast to deliver a coastwide feasibility study.  

Engaging with mana whenua (Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae and Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio) will be undertaken to help establish the project’s objectives and priorities.


The regional feasibility is estimated to cost a total of $100,000. Te Pūtea Whakamauru Para – the Waste Minimisation Fund administered by the Ministry for the Environment will fund $75,000. Development West Coast will invest $10,000, and each district council will contribute $5,000. 


The purpose of Te Pūtea Whakamauru Para—the Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF)—is to boost New Zealand’s performance in waste minimisation. The WMF invests in infrastructure, services, and educational activity throughout New Zealand and is primarily enabled through the waste disposal levy.  


There is considerable scope in New Zealand to reduce waste and increase the recovery of valuable resources from waste. Lifting our performance in recovering economic value from waste also provides environmental, social, and cultural benefits and reduces the risks of harm from garbage. More information about the fund can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

The graphic below explains the difference between a linear economy and a circular economy.

  • Japan has had government policies on a circular economy since the 1990s. 

  • The European Union has included circular economy thinking in its directives and policies since 2013.  

  • Germany passed a Circular Economy Act in 2012 to promote using circular economy models and waste management in ways compatible with the environment.  

  • The United Kingdom issued the Circular Economy Package in 2020, including goals for England, Scotland and Wales.  

  • Many Australian states have recently adopted circular economy laws and strategies.  

  • Members of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) endorsed a circular economy approach in the Pacific Regional Action Plan. 

The waste hierarchy outlines the best to least favoured options for reducing and managing waste.  

The top layers of the waste hierarchy represent a circular approach to managing materials.  

Diversion and recovery of food waste from landfills to create a valuable product (e.g., compost) sits in the middle of the waste hierarchy. It is always best to reduce waste first, but recycling it wherever possible is essential once waste is produced.

A 2024 report from Morrison Low answers why the most cost-effective waste disposal option (for Buller’s Zone One waste) is to York Valley Landfill in Nelson.  

The report considers disposal costs, facility and landfill establishment expenses, rubbish volumes, and regulatory and consent requirements. It is based on an earlier in-depth 2009 assessment that compared developing a landfill at Caroline Terrace versus an out-of-district waste disposal option.    

The report echoes the findings from 2009 – Buller does not produce sufficient waste to make a modern local landfill viable.   

The report estimated that at least 10,000 tonnes of rubbish each year would be required to make a local landfill more cost-effective than transporting Buller’s Zone One waste to an out-of-district landfill. This is four times more waste than Buller currently generates, which indicates that a stand-alone landfill for just the Buller District remains unachievable.     

For context, Buller produces approximately 2,500 tonnes of waste annually that is currently disposed of at the York Valley Landfill. It would take the quantities generated across the whole West Coast (~13,000 tonnes per annum) to make a modern landfill viable in Buller.