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. The diagram below outlines what happens with your refuse. For detailed information what is refuse and where your refuse goes to pleas read the information for each zone.

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.

If you are new to the district, or need a refresher, read our All you need to know about recycling in Buller July 2022 for a quick and easy summary.

Council publishes guidelines to keep the community up to date with changes in the ever evolving local and national waste and recycling landscape. Part of this is to educate you about recycling rules and how to be a local hero. It also involves talking to local businesses and households so our community understands the recycling criteria.

The traffic light system to check recycling bins in Buller

In March 2022 Council implemented a traffic light system to audit contents placed in Buller’s recycling bins. Recycling bins are regularly audited as part of the two-weekly recycling collection by Smart Environmental Ltd and Council staff.

During the collection, staff assesses visually the recycling material. Based on the evaluation employees label the bin with a green, yellow, or red tag.

The colour indicates how well the recycling content meets local recycling guidelines. Bins will not be collected if they are tagged red. Yellow tagged bins will be emptied but if a bin is twice yellow tagged, the bin will be red labelled and not be emptied.

For more information about what each label means and the recycling bin auditing system click here.

This effort aims to create awareness and improve the district’s recycling standard and minimise waste. However, the best way to improve our recycling system is following the three Rs model of reduce, reuse, and recycle.

To get you started basics of recycling are:

  • Plastics #1, #2 and #5 are only accepted if 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

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.

Main facilities and services

Westport and Reefton have a transfer station operated by Smart Environmental offering a range of services. Please check out our transfer station page for more information. Westport, Reefton, and Karamea are Resource Recovery Centers preparing recycling for initial transport to Westport or final transport to processing plants around the country.


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 and the Reefton Transfer Stations. The agreement enables residents to safely dispose of refrigerators at the Westport and Reefton Transfer Stations without charge.

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.


If you have an old computer, laptop, tablet, notebook, monitor, printer, scanner, cameras, mice, keyboard, or adaptor that you want to get rid off you can use the free e-waste recycling service to prevent your e-waste going to landfill and recover valuable materials.

Houshold and small businesses can drop off accepted e-waste items at the Westport and Reefton Transfer Stations during opening hours from 17 July 2021.

Be a tidy kiwi, do the right thing and recycle your e-waste responsibly.

For more information go to our E-waste collection page

Battery recycling

We want your old household batteries! A partnership between the Karamea Waste Management Group (KWMG) and Buller District Council enables everyone living in Karamea to recycle their batteries responsibly.

This service will soon be available at the Westport and Reefton Transfer Station. Find out more here.

Agrichemical container recycling

Agrecovery collection sites are available in both Westport and Reefton, for free drop-off of rinsed agrichemical containers up to 60L in size.

Collection centres are based at Farmlands Westport, and the Reefton Transfer Station.

Opening hours:
Reefton Transfer Station; Tuesdays and Thursday to Sunday, 1pm-4pm
Farmlands Westport; Monday – Friday 8am-5pm. Saturday 9am – 12pm


What you can do

There is a lot you can do to minimise your waste which will save you money and does the environment a good deed. 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 rubbish into public bins. Residents need to handle their own waste generated through established processes. Council enforcement officers will be keeping and eye out for household rubbish in public bins and will tack action if necessary.


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