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Q&A with Wastebusters

Community-owned enterprise Wastebusters is moving the district towards zero waste and helping people to recycle effectively as part of the Queenstown Lakes District waste services contract. QT Magazine spoke to Wastebusters communications coordinator Ruth Blunt about some of the innovative community initiatives which have been undertaken.

What encourages local communities in Queenstown and Wanaka to engage in programmes supporting their local environment? 

With beautiful lakes and awesome mountains, the environment is one of the reasons that people are drawn to the Queenstown Lakes. It’s an environment worth caring for, that’s why things are done a little differently here.

What has been one of the biggest successes at a community level?

SUCfree 2022 is a fantastic campaign, with nine single-use cup (SUC) free cafés in Wānaka and three in Queenstown. Started in 2019 by the local hospitality industry, the campaign aims to make the district single-use cup free by 2022  preventing millions of disposable coffee cups ending up in landfill each year. We want people to show their support by opting to sit in for coffee, bringing their own or borrowing a cup. Cup lending schemes Again Again, Chunky Cups and Wanakup operate throughout the district on a deposit return model of between $3 and $10. 

What other ways can people be more mindful of their waste consumption?

Local cafés and retailers are used to refilling containers, so people should bring their own containers for takeaway foods. Reusing and refilling reduces plastic waste and helps prevent plastic pollution and contamination in the recycling streams. There is a network of water fountains and cafés and businesses offering free water to refill personal bottles. Refill stations can be found at

How can visitors correctly support public recycling facilities?

The lakefronts in Wānaka and Queenstown have colourful public place rubbish and recycling bins that are easy to spot. Across the district, there is a single-stream recycling system in operation for our public place recycling –  aluminium cans go in the black public recycling bins and glass bottles in the blue bins. 

Single-stream recycling typically has low rates of contamination which means the cans and glass can be made into new products. An audit found that plastic bottles and plastic take-away containers used outside the home in our district are mostly contaminated by food or liquid, and can’t be recycled in that state, and they are no longer accepted in our public place recycling binsThe best option is to take them to your accommodation and clean them before placing them in the mixed recycling bin if they are one of the district’s accepted plastics. 

How does kerbside recycling work for homeowners in the Queenstown Lakes?

Kerbside recycling is different throughout New Zealand. Local authorities around the country are working on standardising kerbside systems, but currently this is what people need to know about recycling at home in Queenstown Lakes – glass bottles and glass jars are kept separate from the rest of our mixed recycling. We accept clean cans, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and containers marked 2 or 5 and clear plastic bottles marked 1, for recycling. If you are not sure whether it can be recycled put it in the rubbish bin to reduce recycling contamination. The clear message is – “if in doubt, leave it out”.