Businesses warned to keep bins off footpaths in central Queenstown

by Lauren Pattemore - Nov 22, 2023

Businesses have continued to put commercial rubbish out for collection on central Queenstown streets forcing the council to issue warnings to rule breakers.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has this week closed its kerbside collection points in Queenstown and Arrowtown in a bid to keep stinky rubbish and recycling waiting to be collected by contractors out of public spaces.

But the message appears not to have reached some in the Queenstown CBD, who have placed wheelie bins on sections of footpath, in an attempt at business as usual.

Bins have been lined up on Shotover Street today, despite kerbside pick ups being a thing of the past.

Despite the collection ceasing on Monday, as directed by the council, Crux has spotted piles of rubbish bags dumped overnight in Searle Lane and rows of bins sitting at former collection points around the town.

The council has since 'red stickered' many of them, telling owners the bins are "not authorised to be left or placed on council property".

"Future non-compliance may result in the seizure of this bin without further notice," the warning continues, before advising people to talk to their commercial waste provider about an "on property" service or take their own waste direct to the council's transfer and recycling centre. 

Meanwhile Queenstown's rubbish removal contractors feel they've been "left holding the baby".

Those are the words of AllWaste Queenstown development manager Malcolm Dodds, who says since the collection points closed his team has been going into businesses to individually collect bins.

Because of this, they've put on two extra runs a day to cater with opening hours.

It's more time and cost for the company, as well as for Smart Environment, which collects the recycling for these businesses.

Mr Dodds says threats by the council of infringement notices being issued or bins confiscated are, in his view, problematic. 

"Confiscating bins is a legal issue because they don't own the bins...they don't have a bylaw for that."

Mr Dodds says AllWaste had four meetings with the council after the announcement of the changes, and proposed several alternative ideas to help clean up the streets while still meeting the needs of local businesses.

They included a suggestion of a bylaw to help get bins from businesses off streets by 8am, and bringing in a waste compactor - both "fell on deaf ears", he says.

"They made the decision and basically said 'it's up to you to fix it'.

"It's an amazing town, I want it to look beautiful here and we're doing our best to fix it."

Rubbish bags on Searle Lane this week.

In recent weeks, leading up to the change, Allwaste and Smart Environment have been putting notices on bins and contacting businesses to prepare them for it.

Mr Dodds says there are some "teething issues" as some businesses don't have the capacity to store several bins inside their premises and have instead asked for "one big bin" to put their rubbish, recycling and glass all into.

"That doesn't fit with Queenstown's clean, green, recycle goals, but some of these businesses have six to eight bins, and they can't store that and want to downsize."

Mr Dodds says they will have to lift the cost of their rubbish service, but haven't done so yet, because it's early days and he's not sure how much extra the new service will be impacting AllWaste's bottom line.

He's reluctant to put the prices up since Queenstown businesses have been hit hard with costs recently with Covid-19.

Madam Woo manager Tanya Pozniak says the timing for shutting the service was bad because it fell straight after Marathon weekend, so adjusting to the new service was a "second priority".

"None of us were worried about the rubbish, we were stressed about the amount of customers."

She says her business spoke to Smart Environment on the phone on Monday and arranged for their recycling to be added to its new service; it's also made arrangements with AllWaste for rubbish to be picked up on site. 

"They understood that it was last minute, they're in the same position," Ms Pozniak says.

Madam Woo's rubbish and recycling bin set-up is neater than some, and easier for private contractors to collect.

They store their bins out the back and also in a locker between Church Street and Searle Lane, where the collectors will take their general waste and recycling from.

They've arranged for one red bin to be collected daily, but Ms Pozniak says it's "too early for them to tell" if that's the right amount. 

Madam Woo doesn't have that much waste, she says.

Lululemon manager Monica Bohdzia was one of the workers caught unawares, and said she was shocked by the news, while many others are still floundering with what to do in the absence of the kerbside service.

A manager of another retail store, who asked to remain anonymous, says their business produces upwards of 20 full boxes of cardboard rubbish every day.

They say they received a letter last week from Smart Environment, but haven't contacted them yet, despite it being on the to-do list.

"It's annoying, but it is what it is, I've been focused on Christmas recruiting and haven't had a chance to give them a call."

Main image: The Queenstown Lakes District Council is warning businesses they need to keep their rubbish and recycling bins off public spaces.

Read more: Queenstown businesses floundering as rubbish collection set to stop

Support Crux Support Crux