Queenstown businesses floundering as rubbish collection set to stop

by Lauren Pattemore - Nov 07, 2023

Queenstown CBD and Arrowtown businesses are in need of a new way to dispose of their rubbish as commercial collection points will be closed come November 20. 

It's a move by the Queenstown Lakes District Council towards "becoming a low-waste, low-emissions community", but it's left plenty of business owners confused about how they're going to get rid of rubbish and recycling.

Currently there are three collection sites Arrowtown and six in Queenstown, where businesses can take their bins and recycling for a private collector to pick up - a system that had been arranged by the council for convenience. 

The decision to cancel the service, announced by the council in September, is "frustrating" for businesses, according to Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sharon Fifield. 

It is her view the changes have not allowed enough time for businesses to find alternative options to deal with waste, particularly as many have been having to work around cryptosporidium recently. 

With the end of collection less than two weeks away, Ms Fifield says "there is concern how this is actually going to work" since the current solution is for businesses to take their rubbish and recycling themselves to the transfer station in Frankton. 

She says while private commercial waste collection services have been contacted, they're reporting they "do not have enough staff" to collect waste from individual businesses.

Property owner and manager for Westwood Group Johnny Stevenson has heard from CBD hospitality, retail and office tenants and acknowledges the current system isn't perfect - when businesses do not open until later in the day, for example, their bins can sit on the street waiting for staff to remove them, and that can be untidy.

"It's a problem."

But he thinks stopping the collection points is an "unworkable outcome".

"The scenario now is it's all the bins are off the street. That helps with their (council's) waste management and ticks a few internal boxes, but doesn't change anything."

He wants businesses and council to work together on a more practical solution.

"(An) idea is to have, perhaps, more designated collection points, and then really put the emphasis on the enforcement and making sure that the bins are collected."

He thinks more innovation in general is needed across the country when it comes to waste management, as well as options regionally for recycling.

"It's probably an issue for every town in New Zealand."

A spokesperson for the council says the existing collection model was introduced due to its "convenience" for local businesses.

Although the council has no data on the number of businesses using the service, it says the volume of waste has outgrown capacity at the collection points. 

In a statement in September announcing the changes, QLDC property and infrastructure manager Tony Avery says in recent years a growing number of businesses have been leaving waste and bins out on public land outside of the allocated areas and times.

Shortly after the announcement, the council hosted two drop in sessions for the business community; one held in Queenstown, the other in Arrowtown.

While on 24 businesses were officially recorded as attending, the council tells Crux more were in attendance but did not complete "welcome forms" upon arrival "and hence were not counted".

The council is working to create a Waste Management and Minimisation Bylaw, having identified, it says, "a need to improve the way waste is managed and minimised across the district as part of its commitment to becoming a low-waste, low-emissions, circular economy".

It is inviting early insights from the community through a survey, which can be found online here. The survey closes on Friday, November 17.

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