Permanent depots set up for electronic waste

Although the popular eDay computer waste programmes will not go ahead this year, permanent electronic waste depots have been set up around the country, including three in Otago, and they will also take televisions - for a fee.

The Government has put an additional $1 million towards the nationwide electronic waste recycling scheme co-ordinated by RCN e-Cycle.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the initiative was a step further towards New Zealand better managing the 80,000 tonnes of electronic waste generated each year from used computers, cellphones, printers, monitors and televisions which had thousands of tonnes of recoverable lead, mercury, gold, cadmium and silver.

RCN e-Cycle had 20 depots around the country, many based in community recycling centres, including at Dunedin, Alexandra and Wanaka, and provided everyday recycling of electronic waste such as televisions and computers.

The funding from the Waste Minimisation Fund over one year would help pay for 15 more depots and a nationwide campaign to publicise the service.

It was not yet known where those depots would be.

RCN e-Cycle manager John Thornhill said eDay had done a good job of alerting the public to the growing problem of electronic waste, but its useful life had come to an end.

"eDay was a short-term Band-aid, but it's time to move to an everyday solution for recycling e-waste."

Having people stockpile waste for a year created a recycling bulge which was logistically difficult to deal with and added to that was the forthcoming digital switchover for televisions, he said.

"We have chosen to charge people a moderate fee when they recycle e-waste with us.

The fee covers the cost of safe and responsible e-waste recycling."eDay New Zealand Trust chairman Laurence Zwimpfer said he had concerns about any scheme that relied on users having to pay to recycle their old computers and televisions.

"There is already evidence from a number of the early e-Cycle drop-off centres that the majority of people will simply not pay $20 to recycle their old TV when they can dump it in the landfill for almost nothing."

The new centres were likely to become expensive white elephants if communities refused to pay the charges, Mr Zwimpfer said.

He believed suppliers should foot the recycling bill, by building it into the cost, as new equipment was imported.

In Dunedin, the Dunedin City Council had joined the e-Cycle network for recycling televisions but would continue its relationship with Cargill Enterprises for the recycling of computer waste, council waste strategy manager Catherine Irvine said.

From Monday, televisions could be dropped off at the council's Rummage reuse store at the Green Island landfill alongside computer waste.

There would be a $20 charge for televisions and $10 for CRT monitors.

In Wanaka and Alexandra, recycling centres last month each sent about four tonnes of electronic waste, collected since last November's eDay, to Christchurch for further dismantling and processing.

Wanaka Wastebusters front-of-house operations manager Matt Smith said unwanted televisions comprised at least half of that waste sent.

Alexandra Wastebusters supervisor Wayne Williamson said the last e-Cycle day had been done at a huge personal cost to staff and it had been decided afterwards to join the RCN network instead.


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