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Updated teacher resources on electronic waste now available

Updated teacher resources on electronic waste now available

Educational resources on electronic waste have recently been updated and are still available free to schools and communities.

Electronic waste, or ‘e-waste’, has been described as “the largest toxic waste problem of the 21st century”. E-waste is toxic to our environment unless discarded responsibly to national standards. Did you know that more than 80,000 tonnes of electronics are discarded each year in New Zealand? We now have a responsible solution for our growing pile of e-waste: RCN e-Cycle, a national e-waste recycling network, enables New Zealanders to recycle e-waste in a responsible way. To support this service, a team of experienced Education for Sustainability educators and facilitators from around New Zealand, developed educational resources to inform teachers, students and communities of the issues associated with e-waste and how to become part of the solution. This team have recently updated the resources to further highlight the important message contained within them.

The resources are specifically designed to assist teachers who deliver learning for sustainability, and are inquiry-based and linked to the NZ curriculum. They were first issued in April 2012. They are free to download from the RCN e-Cycle website: They include a behaviour-change guide and three education units with curriculum plans and activities:

How to Be Smart and Recycle your Electronic Waste: A Guide for Schools & Communities: an inquiry learning unit aimed to assist schools and community groups to plan and action the responsible disposal of electronic waste.

The Education Units: for primary, intermediate and secondary teachers. These contain curriculum plans linked to the Social Sciences, Technology, and Health & Physical Education areas of the NZ curriculum and age-appropriate activities.

1. What are electronics? Levels 1&2 – Explore what electronic items are, discover how they differ and explore the various ways they can be dealt with when we are finished using them.
2. Manufacture & recovery of electronics Levels 3&4 – Just how are electronics manufactured? How do we extract and recycle the precious resources contained inside them? Understanding these processes allows students to make informed choices about what to do with unwanted electronic items as well as being empowered to make more informed purchases in the first place.
3. Consumerism & Ethics of electronic waste Levels 5–8. – This is a massive issue that our society now faces. The activities in this unit will spark some very interesting and deep conversations about how electronics are changing the world we live in.

RCN e-Cycle provides a nationwide network of permanent sites where e-waste can be dropped off for recycling on a user-pays basis. These products are shipped to RCN e-Cycle’s three recycling plants in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch for responsible dismantling and processing of materials. These items are broken down into their base components and either recycled locally or sent to ISO-accredited recycling plants overseas. RCN e-Cycle aims for zero waste to landfill, and reduces the carbon footprint by processing as much as possible onshore in New Zealand.

RCN e-Cycle received some financial support from the Waste Minimisation Fund, administered by the Ministry for the Environment. It is managed by RCN and the Community Recycling Network (CRN).


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