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)
  • Nikki Holmes (secretary)
  • Maggie Lawton
  • Nigel Perkins
  • Greg Bodeker
  • Caroline Harker
  • Jan Caunter

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

  • Rachel Brown (chair)
  • Sharon Beattie
  • Sophie Ward
  • Maggie Lawton
  • Florence Micoud
  • Robyn Bardas

Anyone can join the Friends of Wanaka Wastebusters to support our work.


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, nationally and for the planet. Here are some of the contributions we fund from our profits:

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

Facilitate Education for Sustainability projects with youth programmes in Wanaka – Kahu Youth and Community Networks School Holiday Club.

Support schools and community groups in their activities: Presbyterian Church Gala, Leos, Te Kakano, Wanaka Trail Ride, Mt Aspiring School performances, Special Needs Children Bowling Party, Central Otago Hearts Kids Day Out Variety Show.

Support the work of the Community Recycling Network (an organisation representing community enterprises focused on zero waste), including having Sue (our general manager) on the executive committee.

Support the Love Food Hate Waste NZ campaign, including having Gina (our communications manager) on the committee bringing the campaign to NZ.

1-DSC_0201Talk to our community about waste minimisation and sustainability through regular columns for the Otago Daily Times and the Wanaka Sun and interviews on Radio Wanaka.

Continue the battle against ridiculous over-packaging through our Unpackit facebook page.

Collect cellphones for the Starship Hospital fund-raising recycling programme.

Support local initiatives to reduce waste, like the Bag the Habit campaign to reduce plastic bag use.

In 2015 we also:

  • took over Central Otago Wastebusters to prevent it from being lost to the Alexandra community. Worked with Central Otago District Council to come up with a survival plan.
  • provided input into Auckland Council’s planning to improve their inorganic waste collection.
  • hosted David Merritt as poet in residence including a performance on-site during the Outspoken Festival.
  • hosted Mal Williams from Zero Waste Wales and Auckland City Council officers.
  • supported TV Take Back to recycle thousands of TV’s during the digital switch.
  • supported Vanuatu fruit-pickers and their community 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.
  • sponsored and organised the Wanaka Wastebusters Trolley Derby for Wanakafest.


Wanaka Wastebusters employs around 25 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 you can become a member of the Friends of Wanaka Wastebusters. Members can vote and/or be nominated for the Friends of Wanaka Wastebusters executive committee at the AGM.

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