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New Zealand targets e-waste recycling boost

New Zealand – New estimates from New Zealand’€™s leading e-waste recycler RCN indicate that the country is able to recycle only 1% of unwanted televisions and other electronics via its government-backed recycling scheme. The rest, which RCN reveals averages 80 000-plus tonnes of e-waste per year, is still landfilled or sent overseas illegally.

Analogue television transmission was switched off across a large part of the country on September 30 owing to the digital television revolution. Therefore, the New Zealand government is expecting large numbers of old televisions to be dumped. Eager to improve the statistics, it has granted RCN around US$ 1.5 million to set up a network of more than 50 e-waste drop-off points as well as three extra recycling centres.

The US$ 20 fee for recycling cathode ray televisions and the US$ 14 fee for bulky computer monitors have effectively deterred many New Zealanders from using environmentally friendly methods of disposal, notes RCN’€™s General Manager Jon Thornhill.

It is ‘€˜unrealistic’€™, agrees national e-waste campaigner and information technology expert Laurence Zwimpfer, to expect consumers to pay for recycling if they can just as easily throw items into a landfill site for not even one tenth of the cost.

Meanwhile, he acknowledges that some recycling companies accept the unwanted electrical and electronic devices for a much lower charge than RCN’€™s main centres. Mr Zwimpfer also warns that so-called ‘€˜fly-by-night’€™ operators readily accept e-waste for free, only to strip it of any valuable elements and either illegally dump or export whatever remains.

To counter such activities, he believes the government should put mandatory ‘€˜product stewardship’€™ schemes in place, thus forcing the nation’€™s manufacturers to engage in take-back initiatives to recycle the e-waste themselves.

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Source: The Christchurch Press Co. Ltd.

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