Transfer stations to shut Sundays due to staffing squeeze

by Kim Bowden - Nov 23, 2022

Drop-off spots for the district's rubbish and recycling are the latest services to feel the effects of a labour squeeze.

In a written statement today, the Queenstown Lakes District Council says the transfer stations at Frankton and Wānaka will not open on Sundays for the next seven weeks.

The decision to reduce operating hours follows ongoing challenges recruiting staff to run the facilities safely, the statement says.

Both facilities are operated by Waste Management NZ on behalf of the QLDC - but in response to a question from Crux, a council spokesperson has confirmed the contractor is only paid for services undertaken.

The local rubbish and recycling drop-off points in Queenstown and Wānaka are short staffed and cutting opening hours because of it (Facebook/Queenstown Lakes District Council).

Meanwhile, kerbside rubbish and recycling collection services will continue as normal across the district, as will operation of the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) at Frankton, where material collected kerbside is sorted by hand.

QLDC infrastructure operations manager Simon Mason says work's ongoing to find a solution to the staffing shortage. 

“We’re working hard to maintain normal levels of service for the community while grappling with the same resourcing challenges as many other local businesses.

"As we’ve said before, this will not be resolved overnight and our key focus is on balancing the need to maintain staff wellbeing and operational safety whilst continuing our kerbside collection service and fulfilling our waste minimisation commitments."

Temporarily reducing operating hours at the transfer stations will help keep the MRF open, and that keeps recyclable material out of landfill, he says.

Two weeks ago the sorting facility was forced to close for two days due to a lack of staff, leaving mixed recycling collected in yellow bins in Queenstown that week diverted to landfill.

At the time, Mr Mason had said it was "disappointing" and not a decision made "lightly".

In today's statement he says the council is encouraging everyone to keep up good recycling habits.

"Put your bins out as normal with clean mixed recycling in the yellow bin, glass in the blue bin and rubbish in the red bin. Helping to reduce contamination in our recycling streams significantly helps the MRF team who hand-sort our district’s mixed recycling.” 

He says the council is continuing to support Waste Management New Zealand in its recruitment efforts, taking the opportunity to promote in the council communications roles currently available.

Needed are Class 5 and Class 2 drivers, recycling operators, and transfer station operators, the statement says, and anyone interested in applying for any of the roles can visit for more details. 

The Frankton and Wānaka transfer stations will remain open from 8am until 5pm six days a week from Monday until Saturday in the interim. Sunday closures will begin this Sunday, November 27, and continue until Sunday, January 8.

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