For my first foray into the inner workings of Wanaka Wastebusters, I decided to start with Business Collections!

Where to start…… well, I can tell you for a start what’s hot in Business collections…. is the team.

Undercover Ivy - Does Jamie know what he has let himself in for? Me trying to hide my excitement.



INTRODUCING…… A very hard working team indeed.

Bis - Business Collections Boss

Jamie - Winter Truck Driver

Paul - Summer Truck Driver







A bit of history!

What is Business Collections?

Wanaka Wastebusters business collections truck.

Here at Wanaka Wastebusters not only do we collect your recycling from the kerbside and have a 24hr drop off facility on-site, we also collect recycling from many local businesses about town and beyond.

In April 2002 the first truck was bought. It was a Nissan Condor,it was to do pick-ups for people unable to do drop offs and also for paper and card collections from local businesses. In Nov 2005 the big blue truck was bought. If you live in Wanaka, you may have seen its beauty cruising daily around our streets. But what is it doing???

Bis has been running Business Collections with our big blue truck over the last 5 years. In the beginning WW did Business Collections with the small truck to only a handful of Wanaka businesses. He now collects from over 200 businesses in Wanaka.

What does go on with that big blue truck?

After buttering up Jamie with some fine food and regular coffees, offering my services as door opener, note writer, fadge dragger (all will be explained), bin wheeler, joke teller, cake provider, coffee feeder, i-pod master, tail gate operator, people waver……..Trying to be as practical around him as I could, flexing my non existent pecs to show I could be more of a help than a hindrance in the rather physical side of the business, I convinced him it would be a great idea to let me join him in the truck for a few days, (or maybe he knew it was the only way to get some peace and quiet!!!)

Before I start

A bit of truck vocabulary.

Fadge: A word for a big wool sack, generally used to collect card, and in some cases mixed plastics.

Fadge Frame: A metal frame that holds the fadge securely in place, ready for filling.

Tail gate: The ledge at the end of the truck, it acts as a lift making it easy to get the heavy fadges and bins into the truck.

Recyclable Materials: The materials we collect are glass, paper, cardboard, plastic containers 1-7, tin, steel, polystyrene, shrink-wrap and waste vegetable oil.

Bio Diesel: We collect used cooking oil from many Wanaka businesses and send it to Biodiesel New Zealand to be made into biodisesel. Our business truck runs on 100% biodiesel all year round.

Green sacks: Used in offices and small businesses to collect paper, sometimes mixed plastics.

Wheelie bin: Used to collect glass (black bin), mixed plastics(blue bin) and paper(red bin).

Run Sheet: Daily list of what places need a collection.

Baler: A machine that you put in a heap of material (be it plastic, paper etc) and it squashes the life out of it and makes a good neat stackable bundle of produce that takes up hardly any room.

A business day…..

The truck is loaded up the night before with empty fadges, sacks and bins ready for the next days action.

7.30am: Arrive at work, truck on to warm up
7.40am: Coffee in pot brewing
7.43am: Truck safety checks done
7.53am: coffee poured into reusable coffee cups (thank you celsius)
8.00am: On the road!

Every morning the boys check their run sheet. They have their routes worked out to a tee. Sounds easy-as eh! Go to the places, collect the full receptacles, leave empty ones…… If only it was that easy!

I spend most of my days in the office and I take a lot of calls for business collections.

They have their run sheet of regular pick ups, but they also have businesses that call up only when their recycling is full. Not only do they have their daily list, but throughout every day calls come in and they fit them in around all the rest.It takes a bit of juggling, but they do it well and with a smile on their faces….most of the time. I noted jamie’s good idea of writing all the incoming pickups on the windscreen with a whiteboard marker, wiping them off when they are done. Awesome.

So, you take all the pick ups to be done, add in traffic, good and bad drivers, the crazy winter madness, snow, rain, many many people, summer madness, boats, trains plains and automobiles……  These boys manage to maneuver their way around it all with charm and grace.

Jamie would be a tetris master the way he packs a truck!

On the afternoon I decided to join Jamie, New Worlds cardboard baler had hit a glitch in the matrix. They had a whole truck load of card to be picked up. Normally they bale it up (1bale of card=3 fadges!)

It was time to put those muscles of mine to action! I think Jamie was just wanting to test out if I really could cut the mustard to join him for a day!

The staff there are great, It was all tied up neat, and they were really helpful with loading it onto the truck.

Fadge dragger! Jamie putting me through my paces.

It was a quick load up. No time for dilly dallying!
Jamie gave me the hard word from the start about how he likes his truck packed, and boy you can understand why! The amount of stuff that those boys have to fit on the truck can get pretty huge! The work day at Wastebusters ends at 4pm, but not for our boys in Blue… they go until all businesses that need doing are done.

I think I passed with flying colours as Jamie said I could join him the next morning.

I can understand why these boys are so strong.

I have to say that I totally think height is definitely an advantage in this job, being slightly vertically disadvantaged!  I tried to be as helpful as I could, opening the tailgate, (I could only just reach it, both arms straining under the weight of it, slowly lowering it down, goodness me it is a hefty piece of metal… ), grabbing new bins, generally leaving the loading to Jamie. I tell you, it’s non stop. In the truck, out the truck, in the truck, out the truck, bins up, bins down, jumping in bins, squashing down fadges, fadges up, back in the truck….

Spending all this time behind the truck, loading and unloading, the truck still running, I couldn’t help to take a moment to appreciate how clean and good the air smelt with Biodiesel being our fuel of choice. How different it must have been a few years back. Yuk!

Jamie packing down some paper!

Every place has a different storage area: small cupboards, alleyways, up stairs, in gaps too small to wheel the bin through.

Those bins get very heavy when they are full, especially the paper.

I did note that when the bin looked full but wasn’t, it just needed a good squash down, Jamie would leap into the fadge and pack it down as much as he could, leaving the pick up until next time.

Asking Jamie how good the businesses were at recycling, whether or not he had much mix up in materials, he said that sadly there was quite a lot of folks that were still having problems putting stuff in the right bin. He did go on to say that about half of these people probably didn’t do it on purpose, they just didn’t know. Talking to Bis later, he also added that due to the fact we are such a transient town, staff in many of these businesses were seasonal. You could tell when the staff changed over as one month you could have perfect recycling being put out, and the next month its all gone to custard!

Used nappy's and food waste in one paper bin, most likely put in by folks walking by!

My note - Top, Jamie's - bottom!



The boys do their best on the way round to leave little notes to guide people in the right direction. I thought this was one area I could use my creative expertise…..  Hmmmm… I think the kiss at the bottom sealed my fate on being let loose with the pen again!

New camera's fitted into the truck to help with rear vision for tricky manoeuvres.

I did fish quite a lot to try and find some of the tears and tantrums, get some dirt on what’s not hot, and to be honest, both Jamie and Bis had a really upbeat outlook on it all. They are out and about doing a good job for the community and the environment, their office is an outdoors paradise. Asking Jamie what the highlight of his job was, he replied ” the free hot chocolate from a lovely local business”

I was witness to a moment of bad driving from a lady driver, Jamie, raising his hands in frustration, me, asking the ever irritating question after a moments silence, “are you angry?” Jamie just took a breath and said “I’ll be fine after a biscuit”…. and fine he was. You have to have a good temperament in this job. There is no point getting angry. It is a busy town, people may not always do a good job with their materials seperation, but all in all, it’s not worth getting in a fuss over.

On another afternoon I had the opportunity to join Bis in the truck.

It was a good opportunity to have a wee chat with Bis.


Congratulations Wanaka Beerworks for joining the recycling revolution!

His passion for recycling really rubs off on you. I can see how happy he is with the team at the moment and how its been great to be able to grow with the town over the years.
As the town has expanded, we have been able to pick up the recycling that goes with it. Even though you would think that recycling would be the obvious solution to most peoples waste it isn’t always the way.
I did get to share a very special moment… a Wanaka Business has recently changed ownership and for the first time had requested recycle bins. I was there to picture this magical moment!

We went out to Luggate with Bis, but the Business truck also does collections out to Hawea, Cardrona Valley, and Makarora.

Alongside Business Collections, Bis has been successfully recycling at major events since 2008, these have included Rippon music festival, Michael Hill NZ Golf Open, and Warbirds Over Wanaka (dealing with the waste created by more than 60,000 visitors.) but that’s not Business collections so I won’t even open that can of worms.

Having a moment! Ivy admiring the wall of Ivy a little bit more....

So, Business Collections… If I had to sum it up…

I’d say it is a team of hardworking guys, working their asses off come rain or shine, always looking for ways to make it smoother, easier, and more efficient. They deal with any obstacle thrown their way with a smile and nod, and if by chance you do get them on a bad day, just remember it’s not as easy as they often make it look…. so give them a break, throw them a smile, and if you can, a biscuit and a coffee will never go astray!

Big Blue's hefty but inspiring Tailgate!

Keep your recycling clean, put it in the right bin, and remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

That’s Undercover Ivy saying Ciao for now…