Not cricket: Queenstown Garden Company owner Liam Jones


A Whakatipu landscape gardener’s challenging Queenstown council’s waste management credentials.

Queenstown Garden Company owner Liam Jones says he shouldn’t be paying the same rate for dumping organic waste as building companies do to chuck their rubbish.

For the past seven years he’s been taking organic material such as grass clippings, leaves and weeds to the Frankton transfer station.

At current rates that’s $306 a tonne, the same rate building companies pay to dump their construction and demolition waste.

Jones says the only material it calls ‘green waste’ are branches up to 40cm in diameter and small tree stumps, for which it charges $70 a tonne.

He reckons that narrow definition, which excludes the vast majority of organic material, puts the council at odds with many other southern local authorities.

Invercargill’s council accepts all organic waste except flax, and only charges about $80 a tonne.

Timaru’s council also charges $80 and uses it to make compost for commercial sale.

When Jones raised the issue with the council, he was told most organic material couldn’t be processed and was sent to the Victoria Flats landfill in Gibbston.

‘‘You’d think that even if it’s going to landfill, you should get your green waste charge,’’ he says.

‘‘At least you’re putting good stuff back in rather than bad.’’

Council media man Sam White says it defines green waste as material that can be chipped and used on parks and reserves.

Because everything else is sent to Victoria Flats, it’s charged for at the same rate as other waste to landfill, including builders’ waste.

Mountain Scene asked how that’s compatible with the council’s Waste Minimisation and Management Plan (WMMP), which has an objective of minimising the dumping of  construction and demolition waste.

White replies all waste to landfill ‘‘needs to be handled in the same way and is therefore charged at the same rate’’.

Asked why the council didn’t have a composting operation, he says one of the WMMP’s objectives is to consider how to divert more organic material from landfill.

‘‘To this end, council will soon undertake a detailed business case for food scraps, timber and green waste.’’

Scene revealed in 2016 all glass diligently placed into mixed recycling bins by residents was actually being sent to Victoria Flats landfill — it took until 2019 for glass to be recycled.