Wastebusters stay on
Council sticks to community-run recycling service
The Central Otago District Council will support a community-run recycling service, rather than switch to a potentially less expensive commercial provider. The not-for-profit Central Otago Wastebusters has provided kerbside and other recycling services for more than a decade. The council has underwritten the organisation since the recession hit four years ago, at a cost of about $440,000 a year. Councillors recently asked staff to investigate whether any savings could be made by using a commercial recycling provider. The council’s infrastructure services manager, Jon Kingsford, said while a commercial provider of kerbside recycling services might cost up to $150,000 less a year, the council may end up paying more for the other services Central Otago Wastebusters provides. The organisation also serviced nine recycling drop-off points, collected from rural areas and commercial premises throughout the district, ran classes on how to be environmentally friendly, operated a second-hand store of recycled goods, and provided recycling services at at least 10 annual events. It employed 17 fulltime-equivalent staff, provided opportunities for 25 people each year to complete their court-imposed community work, and was supported by 70 volunteers. Its capital expenditure was met through grants from charities, such as the Central Lakes Trust. Mr Kingsford told the Mirror the committee’s decision took into account social, educational and environmental factors, as well as economic. ‘‘The decision was more philosophical – commercial versus community. ‘‘While council is very conscious of the cost to ratepayers, it also has a responsibility to the community. ‘‘It certainly rings true with council’s charter for resource stewardship and sustainability.’’ Council would now have two representatives on Central Otago Wastebusters’ board, with Mr Kingsford and Cr John Lane proposed. An agreement on service levels would also be established and the contract would be reviewed in two years, to ensure greater efficiency was being realised. Council would also review the organisation’s recycling operations. As a result, the move from weekly to fortnightly wheelie-bin refuse collections has been delayed a year, until the review is completed. A planned reduction in fees for disposing of waste at the landfill has also been delayed, to cover the cost of another year of weekly kerbside refuse collections. The Queenstown Lakes District Council was criticised last year for not renewing Wanaka Wastebusters’ contract to provide kerbside recycling services, which threw the organisation’s future into doubt. The blow was softened by the council granting Wanaka Wastebusters a 35-year lease of its land for $1 a year, enabling the organisation’s retail and education centre to continue to operate.