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3-Stream Resource Recovery Model

The EnviroWaste 3-Stream Resource Recovery Model

In 2006 Timaru District Council, in partnership with EnviroWaste Services Limited, implemented a leading edge resource recovery model for New Zealand. The model was New Zealand's first comprehensive 3-Stream waste collection service, whereby households were given 3 separate bins for different types of waste: organics, recyclables and residual rubbish. The model was supported by world-leading recycling and composting technology on the processing side.
Ongoing management of this contract was divested as part of EnviroWaste's 2007 ownership change, but EnviroWaste retains the resources and experience to deliver 3-Stream systems to Councils across New Zealand.


With the 3-Stream system, households separate their waste into three categories: organic material, recyclables and residual waste. The following system was designed for the specific needs of Timaru:

  • Organics: Large 240-litre bin for kitchen and garden waste, collected weekly
  • Fully Co-Mingled Recyclables: Large 240-litre bin for co-mingled recyclables, collected fortnightly
  • Residual Waste: Small 140-litre bin for residual rubbish, collected fortnightly

Leading Resource Recovery Model

The innovative 3-Stream System in Timaru introduced a series of New Zealand firsts:

  • A Materials Recycling Facility or MRF - the first of its kind in New Zealand - for sorting full co-mingled recyclables in to individual streams
  • The southern hemisphere's first Gore Cover composting system for mixed kitchen and garden waste. This system takes 8 weeks to create a batch of compost, which ensures all unwanted seeds, bacteria and fungi are fully ‘cooked' and what's left is high grade, nutrient rich material
  • 3-Stream kerbside collection from all households
  • Kerbside collection of fully co-mingled recyclables in one bin, including glass and paper
  • Kerbside collection of mixed kitchen and garden organic waste


  • Collected quantities dropped by 74% in 3 Months, exceeding the Council's target of 65%
  • 4,515 tonnes of residue waste in 2005 dropped to 1,378 tonnes in 2006
  • The rubbish reduction was offset by the amount of materials collected for recycling and composting. 852 tonnes were collected for recycling and 2,100 tonnes were collected for composting.
  • The amount of material diverted from landfill during September 2006 was 74%, with 54% for composting and 20%for recycling
  • More material was re-used, recycled, or transformed into compost for the surrounding agricultural areas.
  • As of 2007, the system was on-target to more than double the life of the Redruth Landfill in Timaru to 30 years, thereby sparing the community the future expense of up to $30 million in extra landfill costs.

There are numerous towns and cities across New Zealand that need to look at waste management alternatives as they face landfill-life issues, and work to meet their own waste minimisation goals. The 3-Stream model contributes to the recovery of valuable resources, as well as to longer life for landfills and a lessened impact on the environment. The 3-Stream model is fully scalable to meet the waste management needs of any-sized city or town in New Zealand. EnviroWaste has the experience and resources to design and implement the 3-Stream model in partnership with Councils nationally. 

Read on for more detail on why the 3-Stream System Works...

Why the 3-Stream System Works

1. Community Buy-In

  • Community led and community driven: The 3-Stream system in Timaru was implemented in response to community demand for more recycling and reducing waste to landfill
  • Comprehensive communications plan by Timaru District Council facilitated implementation and buy-in
  • Residents of Timaru wanted this for their town and took ownership

2. User Friendly

  • Recycling made easy by taking the effort of separating recyclables away from the household - one fully co-mingled bin is the first of its kind in New Zealand
  • Composting made easy by mixing kitchen and garden waste

3. Flexible

  • Flexibility built in to kerbside service to accommodate individual needs of residents, pensioners and businesses

4. Partnership Approach

  • Model designed to be win-win-win for the contractors, Timaru Council & Residents, and the environment
  • Revenue-sharing on sale of recyclables

5. Systems Approach

With one service provider managing the entire waste stream, the system is optimised and managed in a coordinated manner.

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Waste Removal, Waste Disposal, Rubbish Bin Hire and Recycling services for New Zealand communities and businesses.
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