Buller District Council

Recycling and refuse


The Buller district is divided into three zones for recycling and refuse. Each of these zones has their specific guidelines for recycling and refuse which you will find on the pages below.

  • Zone one covers Westport, the areas from Westport to the Mokihinui Bridge, Westport to Punakaiki, Westport to Reefton including Blacks Point, and Reefton to Ikamatua.
  • Zone two is the Karamea area, from north of the Mokihinui Bridge.
  • Zone three is beyond Blacks Point including Springs Junction and Maruia.


Refuse is any waste or item which after it is used cannot be recycled. Examples are un-recyclable packaging, toothbrushes, clothes, batteries, household items but also tires, furniture or even car parts.

Since there is no means of reusing or processing these items they have reached their end of life and the only safe treatment is to dispose these items in a landfill.

A landfill is a special prepared and managed sanitary site for the disposal of waste material that cannot be recycled. It is also commonly referred to as a tip or dump. There are different types of landfills in New Zealand. Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), landfills must have consent conditions which are appropriate to the material they accept. Disposal of waste in landfill is terminal and accumulative – in short it is a terminal storage facility for the final controlled disposal of waste in or onto land.

In the Buller District the Council owns two small landfills – one in Karamea and one in Maruia – to exclusively service the small surrounding rural areas in zone two and zone three.  All refuse generated in zone one – being the majority of the refuse in Buller – is collected at the Westport and Reefton transfer stations and transported to Nelson. after a long journey this refuse is disposed of at the Nelson landfill – its terminal destination.

What is classified as refuse and where your refuse is disposed off depends on the zone your property is located in. Read the information for each zone to find out what is refuse and where your refuse goes to.

Wherever you live, disposal in landfills is becoming an increasing issue and more expensive around New Zealand due to landfills filling up and tighter regulations to avoid environmental disasters and large clean up costs like the Hector Legacy landfill or the Fox River landfill.


New Zealand’s is on a strategic pathway towards a circular economy and being able to deal with its own recycling. It is a long and hard journey to get to this aim and currently New Zealand is facing an increasingly complex issue how to deal with the tones of recycling after China set up its “Sword Policy” in 2018 banning the importation of recycling from overseas. This change impacted the Buller District like other councils causing the district’s recycling guidelines to change in 2020.

Council published guidelines to educate the community on these changes. We are continuing this effort to educate our community about recycling rules and how to be a local hero reducing your recycling. This involves talking to local businesses and households so you understand the new recycling criteria. This effort should help to create awareness and improve the districts recycling standard and minimise waste. The best way to improve our recycling system is following the three “R” model reduce, reuse, and recycle.

To get you started the basics of recycle right are:

  • Plastics #1, #2 and #5 are only accepted presuming that they are thoroughly rinsed and clean.
  • Cardboard and paper are continuing, provided they don’t have liquid residue or food contamination. It is important to note that till receipts cannot be recycled, they are made from material which is coated in chemicals.
  • Aluminium tins and glasses continue to be accepted although any food residue prevents them from being recycled. You need to rinse, clean, check.

Read our media release from 16 December 2020 for details on how these changes have impacted the Buller District. Now that you know … go a step further and reduce reuse recycle Buller 

Kerbside collection

If you live in zone one you will have kerbside collection for which you can find the information here.

Transfer Stations

Westport and Reefton have a transfer station operated by SmartEnvironmental offering a range of services. Please check out our transfer station page for more information.

If you have been to one of our transfer stations please fill out our Customer Satisfaction Survey HERE


There are two small landfills in the Buller District – in Karama and in Maruia – owned by the Buller District Council. Please check out our landfill page for more information.

Fridges and freezers

Buller District Council, Electro Services Ltd and Smart Environmental Ltd have signed an agreement to offer a free refrigerator disposal service for Buller residents located at the Westport transfer station. The agreement enables residents to safely dispose of refrigerators at the Westport Transfer Station without charge.

We encourage Reefton, Karamea, Marui or Punakaiki residents to utilize this service and bring your fridge or freezer to the Westport transfer station.

Read our media release from 22 February 2021 for details how you can dispose your fridge and freezer free, safely and responsibly on our page.

What you can do

There is a lot you can do to minimize your waste which will save you money and does the environment a good dead. Visit our Reduce Reuse Recycle page and make a difference today. To keep in the loop with the latest news, guidelines and access helpful and inspiring information, stories, and resources like our ReduceReuseRecycle facebook page.

Last but not least

Council would like to remind Buller district residents to not deposit household generated rubbish into the public bins. Residents need to handle their own waste generated through established processes. Council enforcement officers will focus on township litter bins this season.


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