Ross Nicolaou (left) and Glen Drinkwater disassemble
computers for recycling at Cargill Enterprises. Photo by
Dunedin's e-waste recycling effort is gearing up.
Cargill Enterprises is teaming with computer recycling and
refurbishing firm Remarkit to make good use of old and
Chief executive Geoff Kemp says the company plans to be able
to extend its computer recycling operation to the
refurbishment of old computers in the next 12 months - once
TV Takeback is out of the way - as part of the Ministry for
the Environment-aligned Project Green.
Cargill Enterprises has been recycling computers for two
years, in collaboration with the Dunedin City Council and
Wellington-headquartered refurbishment specialist Remarkit,
pulling apart abandoned technology to get to the copper wire
and more precious metals, the silver and gold to be found in
the circuit boards.
Much of what it rescues is sold offshore.
Moving into refurbishment will be a step up, Mr Kemp says.
''We have to set up a very secure area, that's the first
There will be swiped entry and exit points with surveillance
cameras, because of the information that might potentially be
stored on computers brought in for refurbishing.
Wiping the old drives must be done in a controlled
environment, in an audited process. Even a hard drive that is
pulled out and smashed must be tracked so there is a
certificate of destruction.
''Thirty-five to 40% of the equipment that comes in has the
potential to be reused,'' Mr Kemp says.
''So that's quite high.''
It will mean doubling the number of people employed in the
computer recycling operation from four to eight.
''Recycling of e-waste is going to be quite an important wing
of this business, to keep it alive.''
Mr Kemp says there is plenty of potential, as there are some
big technology users in the city.
The University of Otago is the king.
''There's probably about 5000 units a year come out of
there,'' Mr Kemp said, including PCs, laptops, notebooks,
phones and printers.
''While they don't have a high value, they still have a value
and there are still small businesses that would welcome that
sort of equipment.''
A spokeswoman for the university estimated 4.5 tonnes of
e-waste from the institution was recycled during 2012.
Further down the road, Mr Kemp sees Cargill Enterprises
moving into recycling other forms of e-waste, rescuing the
coils and elements from old jugs, disassembling microwaves to
realise the valuable bits.
''If you can carry it, you will be able to bring it in here
and we will be able to process it.''
Remarkit founder and managing director Tim Findlay was one of
the early innovators in New Zealand's e-waste industry, and
has been in the game for 14 years now.
He says Cargill Enterprises will provide a redistribution
point for computer hardware.
''What we are keen to do with Cargills is link with a local
entity to try to pump equipment through the local community,
so it can benefit the community.''
Once the computers have been refurbished, Remarkit provides a
warranty to keep the equipment in use and make sure it is up
to a certain standard.
''Everything to promote the elongation of reuse of that
A refurbished three- or four-year-old computer should be good
for about the same length of time again, he said.
Government departments and many large corporates tend to be
quite conscientious in terms of working with outfits like his
to recycle their technology, Mr Findlay said.
Remarkit and other similar operations probably account for
several hundred thousand units a year, he estimates.
Much of the refurbished hardware then goes offshore, as the
New Zealand market is limited by its size.
Some of Remarkit's refurbished computers go to the Computers
in Homes programme, which, as the name suggests, puts
computers in the homes of lower-income families.
Dunedin Computers in Homes co-ordinator Janine Moore says
about 100 families get a computer through the programme a
year, mostly from Remarkit.
Nationally, it places about 1500 computers a year.
The Government recently put another $1.6 million into
Computers in Homes, enough for another year and another 1500
Drop it off
Computers can be dropped off directly to Cargill Enterprises
in Hillside Rd during office hours for recycling.