Buller District Council

Recycling containers go into storage

4th May, 2021

Two recycling containers located at Springs Junction and Ngakawau will go into storage until council knows whether or not future funding will come from the government’s Freedom Camping Fund.

The recycling container at Springs Junction will go into storage at the Westport Transfer Station on Wednesday (5 May) because it is full. The recycling container in Ngakawau will remain on site until it fills up over the coming weeks.

The recycling containers will be out of service until more funding is secured. If funding is provided by central government, the containers will be returned later in the year for the summer visitor season.

The containers are directed at the district’s visitors.  During the last summer season (October to April) the transportation costs of the facilities was funded through the Freedom Camping Fund. The handling fee was covered by Buller District Council. If the service were to continue during the tourist off season (May to September) the full cost would need to be covered by council through rates. The transport and management of both containers cost approximately $18,000 per year.

Manager infrastructure delivery Eric de Boer says: “External funding is essential to sustain the facility.

“Covid-19 has changed visitation patterns and the type of visitors who are now coming to the district. This may have an impact on how the government distributes funding”.

From March 2019, when the containers were first installed, 34 tonnes of waste materials were collected from the Ngakawau container alone. However, due to the large amount of contamination mixed into the recycling material the contractor Smart Environment has at times needed to dispose of the waste into landfill.

Smart Environment operations manager Alan Corbett says this is a disappointing outcome.

“In December 2020, more than one tonne of glass was sent to landfill from the Ngakawau recycling facility because people couldn’t be bothered to throw the various coloured glass in the right container”.

Smart Environmental faced the same issue with the Springs Junction container.

“During March, we tried to raise awareness about this issue and educate the northern Buller community about using the container properly. We did not see any improvement which forced us to again dispose of the recycling material into landfill.”

This approach can result in significant extra cost to ratepayers.

The recycling containers were installed with external funding specifically for tourists to dispose of their recycling. Council offers kerbside collection for the local community in the northern Buller region.

Mr de Boer says: “What we have seen over the last year with Covid19 closing borders reinforces that the intended use does not reflect the reality. The containers are being used by residents to dispose their recycling, at times in an irresponsible manner and even in some cases to dump rubbish.”

Council is in the process of informing residents in Springs Junction and Ngakawau about the removal of the containers by email, Facebook, local publications, and radio adverts.

Council is concerned that the removal of the containers will increase illegal dumping of rubbish. Therefore, it is working with the communication team and the regulatory compliance team on informing residents about the impact and illegal nature of fly dumping.


further information please contact:
Eric de Boer

Photo: Recycling container Springs Junction this week


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