Claim centres left in limbo over TV recycling scheme

The Government has been accused of making a mess of its television set recycling efforts.

Community recycling network national spokeswoman Sue Coutts, of Wanaka, said this week recycling centres had been left in limbo over the scheme and there was a backlog of 85,000 sets.

She blamed a Government subsidy that was too low to cover the full cost of collecting, storing and processing sets.

From last month, the charge to the public for recycling television sets rose from $25 to $40, leading Wanaka Wastebusters to stop taking sets altogether.

Ms Coutts called on the Government to adopt a mandatory ''product stewardship scheme'' where the recycling costs of electronics were paid ''upfront'' by importers, manufacturers or retailers.

This week, Environment Minister Amy Adams released a discussion document on ways to improve the way waste products were managed, including electrical and electronic equipment, tyres, agrichemicals and farm plastics, and refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases. The focus had been on voluntary product stewardship schemes but ''the time has come to seriously consider appropriate mandatory approaches for selected priority waste streams''.

Ms Adams said 11 voluntary schemes had been accredited by the Government in the past five years, with the result 70,000 tonnes of waste had been diverted from landfill for recycling or safe destruction.

''These are good results, but this only equates to 1.4% of the total waste stream going to disposal facilities.''

As an example of one problem, Ms Adams said up to three million mobile phones became obsolete in New Zealand each year.

''Of those, only about 2% are recycled.''