Waste­Busters takeover on the cards

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Cen­tral Otago WasteBuster’s fu­ture lies in the hands of its Wanaka coun­ter­part.

The Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Coun­cil will dis­cuss the fu­ture of the Alexan­dra-based op­er­a­tion to­day, which in­cludes a pro­posal for Wanaka Waste­Busters (WW) to takeover Cen­tral Otago Waste­Busters (COWB).

In Fe­bru­ary, the coun­cil re­solved com­mer­cial con­trac­tor Al­lWaste would re­place COWBto col­lect re­cy­cled ma­te­rial, and the coun­cil has con­tin­ued to meet with COWBto un­der­stand its in­ten­tions for fu­ture op­er­a­tion.

‘‘COWB have con­firmed that they are in dis­cus­sions with Wanaka Waste­busters about their po­ten­tial in­volve­ment in the man­age­ment of their op­er­a­tion into the fu­ture. Wanaka Waste­busters have been as­sess­ing the viability of any in­volve­ment in the con­tin­u­a­tion of a com­mu­nity-run re­cy­cling en­ter­prise in Cen­tral Otago and have re­quested an op­por­tu­nity to present to coun­cil to dis­cuss this evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion and the way for­ward they have iden­ti­fied to date,’’ a coun­cil re­port says.

COWB ap­proached the Wanaka op­er­a­tion, it says.

‘‘(Wanaka Waste­Busters) has pre­pared a busi­ness case, a plan and a set of bud­get pro­jec­tions that show this could be­come a vi­able stand alone op­er­a­tion.’’

In the pro­posal, which was at­tached to the re­port, Wanaka Waste­busters states its staff and board are in­ter­ested in de­liv­er­ing: re­use shop and yard, com­mer­cial re­cy­cling col­lec­tions - dis­trictwide events re­cy­cling, dis­trict- wide met­als and ewaste pro­cess­ing, and ed­u­ca­tion for sus­tain­abil­ity.

"We are also keen to ex­plore the op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide a public re­cy­cling drop off ser­vice for Alexan­dra. We un­der­stand this would in­volve de­vel­op­ing a sub­con­tract agree­ment with Al­lWaste. We con­sid­ered the op­tion of pro­cess­ing the kerb­side ma­te­rial at Bound­ary Road but the ex­ist­ing sorting equip­ment does not suit the prod­uct mix and it is not prac­ti­cal to gear up within the time­frame avail­able to us.’’

The Wanaka op­er­a­tion was a ‘‘suc­cess­ful com­mu­nity en­ter­prise’’ de­liv­er­ing sim­i­lar ser­vices, WW’s pro­posal says.

WWem­ploys 16 full­time staff and about 23 peo­ple from ‘‘all walks of life’’ and has an­nual turnover of more than $1 mil­lion. It holds a $75,000 con­tract with the Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil for En­vi­roschools, Zero Waste Ed­u­ca­tion and the Dr Com­post pro­gramme.

‘‘The bal­ance of our in­come is earned through our own re­use and re­cy­cling ac­tiv­i­ties. We hold a 35-year lease for our site with QLDC and own all the im­prove­ments on the site.’’

The Cen­tral Otago op­er­a­tion would run un­der the Alexan­dra Waste­busters brand, em­ploy lo­cal peo­ple and op­er­ate for the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity, the pro­posal says. Ini­tially, man­age­ment, busi­ness devel­op­ment, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and public re­la­tions would be done through staff based at Wanaka Waste­busters dur­ing the start-up phase.

‘‘We in­tend to share knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween the two or­gan­i­sa­tions and it is likely that staff based in Alexan­dra would sup­ply ser­vices to the Wanaka side of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘‘Wanaka Waste­busters would have to in­vest a sig­nif­i­cant amount of en­ergy and cap­i­tal to de­velop the Alexan­dra op­er­a­tion.

The start-up phase would in­volve COWB‘‘step­ping back’’ with the Wanaka Waste­busters team tak­ing over, COWBas­sets be­ing trans­ferred toWWto be used to con­tinue op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties, se­cur­ing the ten­ure at the Bound­ary Road site with the for­mal shift to the new op­er­a­tor tak­ing ef­fect July 1.

‘‘There are still some mat­ters to be re­solved to make the pro­posal op­er­a­tional andWWLtd re­serves the right to with­draw if any­thing that makes the pro­posal un­work­able is thrown up in the due dili­gence process.’’

COWB gen­eral manager Glenys Bryne, who has re­signed to take up a sim­i­lar role in Mel­bourne, said since the or­gan­i­sa­tion lost the coun­cil con­tract there had been 25 re­dun­dan­cies.

‘‘That is quite a lot for a small town like Alexan­dra and a lot of those peo­ple will strug­gle to find po­si­tions in other jobs. It’s go­ing to have a big im­pact on a lot of so­cial ser­vices that op­er­ate in the town. They are go­ing to be hit harder by those fam­i­lies that have now lost an in­come.’’

Byrne took up the gen­eral manager’s role just over a year ago, mov­ing from the West Coast where she ran three land­fills. De­spite mak­ing dra­matic changes to the op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing in­tro­duc­ing health and safety and traf­fic flow im­prove­ments and hav­ing a long-term goal of in­creas­ing its pro­duc­tiv­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity – she came on ‘‘too late’’, she said.

‘‘The pre­vi­ous board didn’t move with the times and it out­grew them . . . ev­ery year they were beg­ging for money. It wasn’t sus­tain­able. It was too late (when I ar­rived). We didn’t have enough equip­ment and in­fra­struc­ture.’’

She hoped a pro­posed takeover would work for the team that was left, and Alexan­dra, she said.

Cen­tral Otago Waste­Busters staff mem­bers Anna McRitchie and Val Joyce. Wanaka Waste­Busters plans to con­tinue to op­er­ate the re­use shop and yard. Photo: Jo McKen­zie-McLean/ Fair­fax NZ

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