Volunteer Fred Peyton, 91, is still leading the way to zero waste.  

Fred Peyton is a Wastebusters Alexandra original.

The loyal volunteer attended the organisation’s first meeting 23 years ago and has been a valued member of the Wastebusters family ever since.

At the age of 91, Mr Peyton can still be found on the sorting line every Thursday, removing contamination and sorting products before they are compressed into bales ready for recycling.

No matter the weather, Mr Peyton remains loyal to Wastebusters and the job at hand.

He can recall the organisation’s earliest years – when the Wastebusters dream had not yet become a reality.

Mr Peyton, who is a life member of the organisation, attended a meeting at Alexandra’s education centre in 1999 to discuss plans for what was initially known as Central Otago Wastebusters.

At the time, the town’s landfill had closed, which prompted discussions around how the site could be used to benefit residents and support the evolving recycling scene.

In 2001, following many more meetings, Central Otago Wastebusters was born, which initially included Wastebusters doing the kerbside recycling for Central Otago.

Wastebusters now offers a recycling drop-off at its Boundary Rd site in Alexandra, and manages the rural recycling containers throughout Central Otago, under contract to the Central Otago District Council. 

Wastebusters also runs a user-pays recycling drop-off in Wānaka, and has over 800 businesses and events recycling customers .

Mr Peyton, who was a market gardener at the time of the organisation’s inception, hosted composting workshops under the Central Otago Wastebusters brand for 10 years.

“I did the first composting demonstration in 1988 [prior to Wastebusters] and we got all the schools around the area [involved].”

He also hosted workshops at various A&P shows.

Mr Peyton remains devoted to the organisation.

He still has a strong focus on recycling, which includes sorting what plastics can be recycled from those that cannot alongside a team of dedicated volunteers.

Although the situation has improved in recent years, Mr Peyton is one of the few people who remembers when everyone had a more resourceful lifestyle.

“I was born in 1930 and there certainly weren’t any plastics around then.”

Instead, milk was delivered in glass bottles, meat was wrapped in brown paper and groceries were collected in cardboard boxes.

Wastebusters has been driving change to make those habits trendy, once again, and continues to focus on zero waste as it moves into its 21st year.