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Levy would extend life and widen usage of PCs

14 June 2005

'E-waste' levy would extend life and widen usage of PCs

Green Party Waste-free Spokesperson Mike Ward is calling for a deposit on new computers to stem the flow of 'e-waste'.

Australian NGO Environment Victoria last week reported that only one in four computers across the Tasman are being recycled and that the production of a typical PC uses as much fossil fuel, chemicals and water as that of a mid-sized car.

"If the ecological impact of the manufacture of a computer is really as great as that of a car, a levy is needed to ensure that they are being used as long as possible and that the materials are then recovered," said Mr Ward.

"Such a move would also turn the tens of thousands of computers New Zealanders throw away each year into a potential bonanza. There are a number of community enterprises restoring computers and making them available to schools and low-income families, but it is a largely a labour-intensive activity and most struggle to stay in the black.

"A levy would ensure the viability of such recycling and solve a major part of the e-waste problem. It could be accommodated within the Government's Digital Strategy, which at present makes no mention of the ultimate fate of the computer hardware that it aims to encourage more people to use.

"Computers are great, but like all modern inventions they need to be used responsibly and in moderation. The current regime of planned obsolescence is ecologically irresponsible and ultimately counter-productive. If these machines were designed so they could be more easily and economically maintained, their useful lives could be extended and second or third-hand use would become more common, meaning more low income people could get access to them and be able to become more computer literate."

Mr Ward's Waste-free private member's bill provides for levies through its extended producer responsibility mechanisms.


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