Our story

Wanaka Wastebusters is a community owned enterprise, which was set up by volunteers in 2000 to start recycling in Wanaka and reduce waste going to landfill. We have charitable status. Any profits we make are used to provide extra services for our community and to further our mission and vision to move towards zero waste.


General manager Sue Coutts paints the big picture for the future of Wanaka Wastebusters Ltd. She reports to a Board of Directors who watch over the financial health of Wanaka Wastebusters. The current Board is composed of:

  • Sally Battson (chair)
  • Barbara Chin (secretary)
  • Nigel Perkins
  • Peter Robinson
  • Caroline Harker
  • Nikki Holmes

The long-term vision of Wanaka Wastebusters is overseen by the Friends of Wanaka Wastebusters executive committee:

  • Rachel Brown (chair)
  • Jo McArthur
  • Tim Wardell
  • Maggie Lawton

Anyone can join the Friends of Wanaka Wastebusters, there is an annual subscription fee of $1 which can be paid at the reuse shop.


The opening of Wastebusters in 2000 was the fruition of many months working, planning and fund-raising by a dedicated committee. The committee had links through the whole Wanaka community, and was chaired by respected GP Dr Dennis Pezarro. Numerous volunteers turned up at working bees to build the recycling centre.

When Wanaka Wastebusters opened, one person was employed. A decade later, the community enterprise is one of the largest employers in town, with 16 FTE staff, well-developed buildings and grounds, substantial machinery and a small fleet of vehicles.

In November 2010, Wanaka Wastebusters celebrated its 10th birthday with a giant gala, followed by a massive after-party. We were pleased to have the Minister for the Environment Nick Smith, and the current mayor Vanessa van Uden, as honoured guests. Opening the gala, Dr Smith commended Wastebusters for its tenacity, foresight and commercial sense.


Wanaka Wastebusters collects the recycling from over 200 businesses in Wanaka. We have extensive experience in events recycling and waste management, including for Rippon and Warbirds Over Wanaka. We offer drop-off recycling for households and businesses at our recycling centre, corner of Ballantyne Rd and Riverbank Rd. Our second-hand store is the largest in Wanaka, and we run environmental education for schools and the wider community. We created and ran the Unpackit Awards from 2010-2013 to help clean up New Zealand’s packaging waste.


Wanaka Wastebusters is always working to strengthen our community and work towards zero waste both locally and in the bigger picture. In fact, that’s what we spend any money we make on. Here are some of the contributions we’ve made recently:

to our local community

DSC_0479 (425x640)Provide ongoing Enviroschools facilitation to preschools in Wanaka and Queenstown.

Sponsored and organised the Wanaka Wastebusters Trolley Derby for Wanakafest.

Hosted a David Merritt as poet in residence including a performance on-site during the Outspoken Festival.

Support Community Networks (facilitate a day of the school holiday programme), Presbyterian Church Gala (free recycling), Challenge Wanaka (kitted out volunteers tent to feel like home), Leos (collecting aluminium pull-tabs), Te Kakano (free pots and other materials), Starship Hospital (cellphone recycling programme), Wanaka Trail Ride (discounted recycling), performances for Mt Aspiring School (lend props and costumes), annual Special Needs Children Bowling Party in Queenstown (donation) and the annual Central Otago Hearts Kids Day Out Variety Show (donation).

Supported Vanuatu fruit-pickers after Cyclone Pam with free clothes, collected donations for the Nepal Earthquake – Helambu, Solu Khumbu region fund set up by WW ex-project manager Sophie Ward and her husband Mal Haskins.

on the journey to zero waste

Sue is a member of the executive committee for the Community Recycling Network (an organisation representing community enterprises focused on zero waste).

Gina is on the Behavioural Change Steering Committee for WasteMINZ and is part of the committee providing guidance on the Love Food Hate Waste NZ campaign.

1-DSC_0201Provided input into Auckland Council’s planning to improve their inorganic waste collection.

Worked with Central Otago Wastebusters and Central Otago District Council to come up with a survival plan for Central Otago Wastebusters.

Write regular columns for the Otago Daily Times and the Wanaka Sun on waste minimisation and sustainability.

Admin the Unpackit facebook page to overthrow ridiculous over-packaging.

Hosted Mal Williams from Zero Waste Wales and Auckland City Council officers.

Supported RCN e-Cycle and TV Take Back.


Wanaka Wastebusters employs around 23 people, including some with special needs. We love that most of the wages we pay are spent in town which helps other local businesses. We also make an effort to buy products and services from local businesses to strengthen our local economy.

Join Us

If you want to support the work of Wanaka Wastebusters, then become a member. You can pay your $1 sub and sign up at the Wastebusters shop. Members can vote and/or be nominated for the Friends of Wanaka Wastebusters executive committee at the AGM.

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