Waste management during COVID-19

Unite against COVID-19

Waste management is primarily the responsibility of your local district council, so throughout the different COVID-19 alert levels, the most up-to-date information on issues such as rubbish collection and recycling, and whether transfer stations are open, will be on your council’s website.

View the list of Canterbury’s 10 district councils and links to their websites

Guidance on waste management 

However, there are waste-related matters that we can provide guidance on. If your question is not answered here, please contact us by phoning 0800 324 636 or use our contact form.


We recognise that you may be looking for alternative ways to deal with a surplus of rubbish and recycling, including burning cardboard and paper at home (whether in a wood burner or outdoors). Please remember the following:   

  • Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) is strongly discouraging any outdoor burning while we are at Alert Level 4. This is to help reduce potential damage to property, as well as to help limit exposure to COVID-19 and the risks to their crews responding to calls, many of which are volunteers. They are urging people to consider alternative options to burning at this time, including delaying any fires until the circumstances change.
  • Large parts of Canterbury are still in a restricted fire season and permits from FENZ are only being issued for necessary crop stubble burns to allow farmers to continue their essential business during lockdown, but under strict conditions. People are requested to visit checkitsalright.nz to request a permit and to get information on local requirements.
  • Fire permit holders are encouraged to call Fire and Emergency NZ prior to lighting any permitted burns so they are aware if calls are received in relation to these burns. They should also notify nearest neighbours where practical to limit the number of well-intended close-distance smoke reports to 111. People are also advised to check any historic fires lit over recent months to ensure they are fully extinguished.
  • FENZ says people should avoid burning household rubbish.
  • The following materials are prohibited from being burnt in both outdoor burning and in-home heating appliances: 
    • Treated or painted wood
    • Metal or wire that is coated with any material
    • Materials containing asbestos
    • Rubber
    • Plastic
    • Batteries, chemicals, paint and other surface coating materials
    • Synthetic material including foam and fibre glass.
  • Burning items that you would normally recycle may cause air pollution issues for you and your neighbours.
  • FENZ reminds people to empty any ashes and ashtrays into a metal bin and pour water over them before safely disposing. Remember that ashes can take up to five days to cool.


As at any time, fly tipping – ie, dumping your rubbish – is illegal. This includes near our precious waterways, in our regional parks or anywhere else.

There is concern that this could increase due to COVID-19 restrictions. If you have seen dumped rubbish, of any kind, please report it using Snap Send Solve or phone 0800 324 636.

Dumping garden waste is a biosecurity issue, with the potential to spread plant pests, weeds and other organisms.

Check with your local council for advice on how to dispose of garden waste safely, and for more general advice, go to Weedbusters