In high-level radioactive waste disposal, a heat-generating waste canister is generally encased with a layer of bentonite-based buffer material acting as an engineered barrier to limit water percolation and radionuclide release. The low thermal conductivity of bentonite (~0.5 W/m∙K) combined with a high thermal loading waste package may result in a high surface temperature on the package that can potentially impact the structural integrity of the package itself as well as the surrounding buffer material. We show here that the thermal conductivity of bentonite can be effectively enhanced by embedding copper wires/meshes across the buffer layer to form fully connected high heat conduction pathways. A simple calculation based on Rayleigh’s model shows that a required thermal conductivity of 5 W/m∙K for effective heat dissipation can be achieved simply by adding ~1 vol % of copper wires/meshes into bentonite. As a result, the peak surface temperature on a large waste package such as a dual-purpose canister can be reduced by up to 300°C, leading to a significant reduction in the surface storage time for waste cooling and therefore the overall cost for direct disposal of such waste packages. Because of the ensured full thermal percolation across the buffer layer, copper wires/meshes turn out to be much more effective than any other materials currently suggested (such as graphene or graphite) in enhancing the thermal conductivity of buffer material. Furthermore, the embedded copper wires/meshes can help reinforce the mechanical strength of the buffer material, thus preventing the material from a potential erosion by a possible intrusion of dilute groundwater.