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Our vision for Buller

Our long-term vision is to have the Buller community understand their waste consumption, their impact on the environment and commit to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Diverting waste that could be reused or recycled from landfill saves money and is good for our environment.

New Zealand’s is on a strategic pathway towards becoming a circular economy and being able to deal with its own recycling and we all need to do our bit.

Buller District Council is operating sustainably and meets climate and waste management standards. It is also supporting the community through education and collaboration.

West Coast Regional Waste Minimisation and Management Plan

The West Coast Regional WMMP 2018 sets out how Councils will progress efficient and effective waste management and minimisation in the West Coast region. It paves the way forward, considering current policy, the legal framework and West Coast region vision, with an overarching suite of guiding goals and objectives.

Waste minimisation goals

To monitor progress towards this goal, Council uses three key indicators, which it aims to reach by 2025:

  • Our goal is to reduce the average amount of waste per resident to 25 kg/per head per month
  • Our goal is to reduce the percentage of contaminated recycling to 20% per month of total recyclable material collected
  • Our goal is to increase the percentage of recycling collected to 35% per month of total waste produced.

Reduce waste

To keep this measure proportional to the people living in the district and to make it comparable, we calculate this indicator as the total amount of waste produced divided by the number of people living in Buller (average amount of waste in kilograms per resident per month).

Reduce contaminated recycling

Contaminated recycling causes a lot of work and extra cost for ratepayers. Often, if recycling is highly contaminated, the entire batch of recycling has to go to landfill – even the clean and recyclable materials in the mix. To know how much of the recycling collected is contaminated and disposed of to landfill, Council captures this as a percentage of the total amount of recyclable material collected. This is an indicator of residents’ behaviour, capturing how well residents follow the recycling guidelines. We all have a role to play in getting this right.

Increase the amount of recycling

Two factors can positively influence this measure – either the total amount of waste reduces and/or the amount of recycling material increases. If we reduce waste material and recycle right, ultimately this measure should increase. The key is to move Buller towards generating a better managed waste footprint. With this indicator, we look at the big picture and tie refuse minimisation and recycling right together.

We monitor these indicators monthly.

The district has very limited facilities to deal with refuse and no facilities to process recyclable materials. Nelson York Valley in Nelson is where most of Buller’s waste material goes, although there are two smaller landfills in Buller. Recycling is sent away to be processed.

Refuse and contaminated recycling from Buller are sent to a landfill, so it is important to recycle as much as possible to reduce that. If recyclable materials are recycled right, they can have a second life. The Will & Able website has great information on products made from recycled milk bottles.

Reducing refuse as part of the equation is extremely important since there is no means of reusing or processing refuse. Refuse items have reached their end of life. The only way to dispose of these items is in a landfill where they accumulate.

In terms of the bigger picture, New Zealand had to rethink its recycling strategy after China set up its Sword Policy in 2018 (see below), banning the importation of recycling from overseas.

Previously, most of the recycling generated in New Zealand was sent to China for reprocessing. We can only reprocess plastics #1, #2 and #5 inside the country. Until we can find a better solution, plastics with other numbers on them are disposed of in landfill.

You can help by being a local hero and do your part to keep our home beautiful!

RRR Buller District

The changes in Aotearoa’s/New Zealand’s recycling system are globally influenced. In the past, most of the recycling generated in New Zealand was sent to China for reprocessing.

This was because NZ has limited infrastructure for recycling. However, since 2018, China set up its Sword Policy banning the importation of recycling from overseas, therefore creating an issue for all the countries that used China to reprocess their recycling.

New Zealand can only reprocess Plastics #1, #2 and #5 inside the country.  Since China set up its policy, like most of the recovery centres in New Zealand, the Westport Material Recovery Centre (transfer station) was forced to store all mixed plastics (plastics different to #1, #2 and #5), waiting for a solution.

However, by the end of 2020, no solution to process this plastic inside Aoteaora/NZ was found, so Council and its contractor made the decision to only collect plastics numbered #1, #2 and #5, which can be recycled. Any plastics with other numbers on them are trucked to Nelson and disposed of in a landfill.

In the case of mixed papers and cardboard, there are only a few reprocessing plants around the country, which cannot cope with the amount of paper and cardboard currently generated across Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Any over-supply is being stored to possibly send overseas for reprocessing when a cost benefit analysis stacks up.

In the case of Buller, we generate around 185 tonnes of mixed paper and cardboard a year.  This is significant, it is approx. 28% of the recycling generated in Buller. Council’s approach at the moment is to continue receiving cardboard and mixed paper materials for now.  However, the community is strongly advised to reduce as much as possible the quantities of cardboard and paper it generates or to look at ways to compost this material at home.

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