Wanaka group picks up part of recycling contract

Jon Kingsford.
Jon Kingsford.
When one bin lid closes, another one opens.

It was the end of an era yesterday as Central Otago WasteBusters closed after 15 years as the district's only recycling operation.

However, its Wanaka counterpart - Wanaka Wastebusters - has picked up the reins and has expanded into Central Otago, opening for business today.

The Wanaka operation will be given a share of the district recycling contract, the Central Otago Otago District Council decided yesterday.

Its contract will span at least three years, for fortnightly collection and processing of recyclable materials from drop-off facilities, excluding Cromwell.

It will also lease the WasteBusters' Boundary Rd, Alexandra, base and the reuse shop.

Central Otago WasteBusters was on the brink of insolvency last year and was bailed out by the council.

It employed 19 full-time staff and 10 part-timers but began shedding staff in May after losing the contract for the district's recycling service.

The new contract, for an expanded recycling service, was won by AllWaste, which also has the district refuse collection contract.

Wanaka WasteBusters offered to take over its Central Otago counterpart but told the council it needed part of the recycling contract to remain viable in its new territory.

The council's infrastructure services manager, Jon Kingsford, said yesterday the Wanaka group's contract would be for $108,900 for up to 450 tonnes of material collected and processed in the first year.

The additional cost of having a second contract for the provision of recycling services (on top of the AllWaste one) would boost the total annual cost to council to $122,100.

Although it was more expensive than just having a single provider, AllWaste, there were several benefits to letting the Wanaka group be involved.

It offered additional collections during the busy summer holiday period, which should ''reduce the experience of messy and overwhelmed drop-off facilities experienced in recent years'', Mr Kingsford said.

It would also retain some of Central Otago WasteBusters' staff and continue the reuse shop.

All glass would be colour-separated and delivered to O-I for recycling, instead of being crushed.

Wanaka WasteBusters manager Sue Coutts said that the decision was good news.

''We couldn't have gone ahead with our plans without that contract and now it'll be business as usual,'' she said.

Eight staff from the Central Otago operation, full-timers and part-timers, would have jobs under the new management and she hoped there would also be some roles for the volunteers who were part of Central Otago WasteBusters.

''It's great to see community enterprise carrying on and keeping the good work started by Central Otago WasteBusters going,'' Ms Coutts said.

Cr Stephen Jeffery said there were ''more pluses than minuses in this''.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

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