Buller District Council

New waste contract management system goes live in Buller

25th June, 2021

Watch out Buller a new weapon to fight contamination in recycling bins is being launched next week (28 June).

In order to improve the quality of collected recycling the Buller, Smart Environmental Limited’s (SEL) kerbside collection truck has been fitted with CCTV cameras and an interactive monitor in the driver’s cabin. The cameras are installed in different locations on the truck. They enable the driver to scan, log and view the quality of the recycling as it is coming on board the truck when recycling is being picked up from resident’s kerbside bins.

The cameras are part of SEL’s contract management system that will collect data on the recycling quality.  It will log the truck’s route, collect and scan the material and capture images of contaminated recycling.  This information will then be entered by the driver and tagged to properties along the route. The system will accurately report, provide proof, and track the reason why a bin was rejected due to contaminated and non-acceptable recycling material in the recycling bin. This will enable SEL to provide real time answers to customer enquiries and provide proof of contamination to customers if required.

SEL Operations Manager Alan Corbet says: “The IT upgrade will optimise the recycling collection in multiple ways and help us identify properties that repeatedly have dirty recycling or rubbish in their bin. With the CCTV cameras the driver can easily detect contaminated recycling and waste hidden at the bottom of a bin and record this in the system with a still image.”

The camera inside the truck also enables the driver to see from his cabin how full the truck is to preventing overloading. Side and rear cameras remove the blind spot for the driver and increase road safety. The forward-facing camera will assist in resolving customer complaints about uncollected bins.

The cameras footage will be stored on a hard drive. The footage can only be accessed by SEL key staff.

Mr Corbet says: “The system will also add many improvements to our waste collection, increase staff and the public’s safety, and create insights to meet our waste minimisation targets.”

The information used and displayed by the system does not include personal details like property owner’s names or contact details. The cameras do not capture sound and are positioned to ensure no personal details are recorded. The driver can only live view the footage.

The software program is the industry leading standard for proof of service and is used by many waste contract management specialists worldwide. The system has proven successful in districts around New Zealand.  After SEL introduced the contract management system, customer enquiries reduced significantly in some districts, due to clear evidence of recycling contamination in bins.

Mr Corbet says: “The education benefit in having proof and better insight into recycling contamination is massive. Clear evidence, data and knowing where contamination occurs is a really big opportunity for education.”

Council’s solid waste coordinator Juliana Ruiz says: “The new contract management system will provide valuable data about the level and kind of contaminated recycling in Buller. It will enable us to improve our service and waste minimisation.”

The system will be used for waste collection and monitoring of properties with kerbside collection. This includes properties located in Buller’s waste collection zone one, which is Westport to the Mokihinui Bridge, Westport to Punakaiki, Westport to Reefton including Blacks Point, and Reefton to Ikamatua.

Ms Ruiz says: “The software program complies with the Privacy Act 2021. Residents can be sure that no information is available to SEL and council staff that could not be found publicly. We are committed to keep residents’ information safe and operating with the legislation on privacy”.

Buller District Council and SEL have been campaigning on reducing high levels of recycling contamination in the Buller District. Other councils around New Zealand face the same issue and have introduced contract management systems and camera technology in combination with bylaws to actively reduce recycling contamination.

In Buller, on average 37% of recycling is contaminated and council says this amount must reduce. In each 10 kg of recyclable material collected during kerbside collection, 3.7 kg is contaminated and goes to landfill.

Ms Ruiz says: ”We currently have no by-law that enables us to follow up on contaminated recycling once it is detected. The new system enables us to detect, record clear evidence, and prove contaminated recycling offenses. Repeat offenders will receive education and if contamination continues to occur it is possible their bin will not be emptied”.

Council encouraged residents to visit council’s website and like their new Facebook page @RRRBuller to keep up to date, get inspired and informed about how to recycle right.


further information please contact:

Solid waste coordinator
Juliana Ruiz

Photo: Dirty recycling and waste found in recycling collected in Buller is a usual sight.


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