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The three Rs - Reduce, reuse, recycle

The best way to improve our recycling system is following the three Rs model reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Reducing waste in the first place by saying no to unnecessary single–use items, making sound purchase decisions, and avoiding materials that cannot be recycled. For example, refusing plastic straws, avoiding takeaways containers, or enjoy dine-in are good practices to reduce waste.

Reusing items that can be reused like spray bottles, using reusable takeaway containers, using reusable bottle waters, using containers for storing food, purchasing bulk food without unnecessary packaging, or taking your own container to the supermarket. Save money and make your own biscuits and crackers, sauces, yogurt, or cream cheese, and compost your food scraps at home and work.

Recycle waste material properly by following the rules of our local recycling system, so that, all materials are of a clean and adequate quality allowing them to be recycled and re-used inside the country.

There is a lot you can do to minimise your waste which will save you money and does the environment a good deed. This page is an easy guide to how you can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

To keep in the loop with the latest news, guidelines and access helpful and inspiring information, stories, and resources like our Reduce Reuse Recycle Facebook page.


Much of our waste is sent to landfill where it accumulates and takes time to breakdown – in the case of items like plastics, hundreds of years.

Diverting waste from landfill saves money and is good for our environment. It simply makes sense.

Buller District Council’s goal is to reduce how much waste goes to landfill and increase how much we recycle and reuse.

We are also focusing on educating people on what to recycle and how to avoid contaminated material ending up in recycling bins. Unfortunately, contaminated recycling ends up in landfill.

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

Recycling is the obvious method of minimising waste but here are some other useful techniques for households and individuals: 

Shopping smarter

Packaging, single use items and disposable products create waste and impact our environment. You can shop smarter by buying only what you need, buying reusable items like beeswax wraps, drink bottles and straws, and buying previously loved items.

The Ministry for the Environment has some great advice how you can reduce your contribution to the tones of rubbish filling New Zealand’s landfill each year. You can help by shopping smarter, host a low waste BBQ and reducing your waste at home.

For advice, background info and solutions tailored to our home – the Buller District- check out the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Facebook page.

Regular audits

We encourage businesses and households to do a rubbish audit, identifying products that are unable to be recycled or reused and finding eco-friendly alternatives. Waste audits can have many benefits to a business and household, including significant financial savings, national impact and consumer satisfaction.


With food waste, we encourage composting and growing your own produce.

Food scraps and cardboard are perfect to start a compost and the goodness of your home-made compost will enhance the soil quality in your garden. Check out this sweet as video from Mitre 10 and start your compost today reducing your waste.

If you need some inspiration and want some more help, get in touch with a community group who runs a community garden like Number 37 community house. They have a wonderful garden to get you inspired and these guys offer frequent composting workshops.

There are also some great tips on how to get started on the Love Food, Hate Waste website. We don’t collect food waste here in Buller, so this is a great way to help out the environment.


If you love your coffee, get a reusable cup for your take-away coffee. We have no recycling facility for take-away cups in New Zealand and they are disposed of as landfill. Many coffee shops in Buller offer reusable cups or even encourage the use of these reusable items. If you want some inspiration, check out these cool cups from Ideal Cup.

Here are some other tips for reusing in our daily lives:

  • Purchase products made from recycled materials
  • Use cloth bags when buying groceries or reuse grocery bags.
  • Donate to a charity or sell old clothes, furniture, toys or appliances.
  • Buy second-hand.
  • Adopt the use of recycled paper for copier paper, letterhead and newsletters. 
  • Avoid goods that are over-packaged. 
  • Instead of using paper napkins, cloth napkins can be used. 
  • For babies, use washable cotton diapers.
  • Subscribe to electronic newsletters and use e-mails instead of paper copies. 
  • Learn to reuse products in different ways. For example, plastic microwave dinner trays can be reused as picnic dishes, old coffee jars can be used to store things.
  • Broken furniture, appliances and toys can be repaired.
  • Water bottles, bags, old newspapers and containers can all be reused in the same or different ways to their originally intended use.
  • Recycled timber can make great furniture.
  • At home and in the office adopt the use of recycled paper if you can for copier paper, letterhead and newsletters. 

Everyday changes

There are some easy to implement everyday changes that have a big impact. Changing your habits that tiny bit, switching to a more environmentally conscious alternative, or even endeavouring on a new hobby like having a garden or starting a compost will prevent a big chunk of household waste going to landfill, protect the environment and hopefully add to your lifestyle and wellbeing. We feature our top impactful changes in a video to give you a hand and get you inspired.

Watch our video and get stuck into it! Please note the Facebook competition advertised at the end has expired.

To get you started check out the basics of recycling are:

  • Plastics #1, #2 and #5 are only accepted if they are thoroughly rinsed and clean.
  • Cardboard and paper are accepted at the Westport and Reefton transfer stations (but not in Karamea), 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 glass are accepted although any food residue prevents them from being recycled. You need to rinse, clean and check.

For the finer details on how refuse and recycling work in Buller read about the three refuse and recycling zones and see our what can be recycled in Buller page for a recycling refresher.

Resources to recycle right

To make it easy for you to recycle right and be a local hero, Council converted the local recycling information into fun infographics and posters to use at home, at work, at school, or for your local sports club.

These infographics and posters are great resources to put on your fridge, teach kids, or use as a fun reminder at work.

Get into it and download them now!