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Mallard: Waste reduction a step to sustainability

Trevor Mallard

18 September, 2008
Waste reduction a step towards sustainability

Good morning everyone.

It gives me great pleasure to be here today to officially launch eDay 2008.

First I’d like to thank everybody involved in the event for their dedication and hard work in making eDay a reality. In particular I’d like to acknowledge Laurence Zwimpfer for his commitment to this project. I know the logistics of planning and coordinating such an event at a national level are significant, and it's really good to see eDay going ahead again this year, even bigger and better than before.

With an increasing demand for consumer electronics, it is no wonder that electrical and electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world.

eDay was created in response to a growing concern about the volume of e-waste being dumped in landfills around the country with a potentially toxic effect on the environment.

Recycling e-waste is an opportunity not only to protect our environment from potentially hazardous substances, but to recover and recycle the valuable materials inside these products.

Did you know that here in New Zealand over 25 per cent (825,000) of our mobile phones are no longer being used? Over 95 per cent of a computer is recyclable but more than 250,000 unused computers are stored around New Zealand homes. eDay provides Kiwi households with the chance to do the right thing and recycle their e-waste.

Reducing waste is one part of our government’s commitment to sustainable development. As you know, we want to improve and protect New Zealand's environmental credentials and we're working on several fronts to do this, not the least of which is the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Being eco-friendly is not just crucial for our way of life and New Zealand's environment, it's increasingly important for our export sector too as consumers worldwide demand climate friendly goods.

And sustainability is something we have to work on together, as a partnership between businesses, government, local authorities and communities. The eDay initiative is an excellent example of how computer equipment producers and distributors work together with local communities to raise awareness of the potential impacts e-waste can have on our environment.

Strong partnerships and community spirit can make any event a success and it was good to see this year that eDay organisers Computer Access New Zealand Trust and 2020 Communications Trust received a Green Ribbon Award from the Ministry for the Environment for their efforts in the community to protect New Zealand’s environment from e-waste.

The government has partnered with Computer Access New Zealand and the 2020 Communications Trust to provide past eDays, and I am pleased the government was able to support this initiative again this year by providing $200,000 from the government's Sustainable Management Fund.

This government is committed to making a difference with regards to waste.

Reducing harm from some wastes such as e-waste requires additional measures throughout a product's life-cycle, from manufacture and use through to disposal. We encourage product stewardship as a way to do this.

Last week parliament passed the Waste Minimisation Act which could provide tools to regulate product stewardship for electronic waste. This would give the IT and consumer electronics businesses the confidence they need to ensure those who take responsibility for the environmental impacts of their product won't be undercut by free-riders.

It also provides for dedicated waste minimisation funding to assist in developing New Zealand’s recycling businesses and to encourage people to reduce waste.

The Ministry for the Environment has also been working with the IT and consumer electronics industry to establish a long-term, sustainable option for the safe recycling, reuse and disposal of unwanted IT equipment in New Zealand. This will mean New Zealanders will be able to recycle their unwanted equipment when they need to, rather than just once a year.

eDay provides a welcome interim solution for households to deal with their e-waste in an environmentally-responsible way, but I hope to see industry step up to develop a longer-term solution to the e-waste issue in New Zealand.

I strongly urge everyone with e-waste to support the environment by taking part in eDay. Through the combined efforts of communities, local government, industry, and government we can make eDay 2008 the most successful yet.

Congratulations to all the individuals and organisations contributing to this year’s eDay and I look forward to another positive outcome for 2008.

Thank you.


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