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Prime Minister applauds eDay

Media release
4 June 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Prime Minister applauds eDay for diverting toxic waste from our landfills


As part of the World Environment Day week of celebrations, the 18th annual Green Ribbon awards were presented to nine recipients last night in a special award ceremony at Wellington Town Hall.

The Computer Access New Zealand Trust (CANZ), organiser of the national eDay programme, was honoured as the recipient of the award for Community Action for the Environment.

“To know there is someone who will take that old computer away is a real relief. We need this on a commercial scale but it’s good to know it has started,” said the Right Honourable Helen Clark, Prime Minister, who attended the awards last night.

eDay 2007, New Zealand’s first community-driven national electronic waste recycling event, diverted 415 tonnes of computer waste from landfills. More than 6,900 carloads of electronic waste (e-waste) was dropped off at 12 venues over two days with more than 26,000 computer items including monitors, CPUs and printers diverted from being dumped in New Zealand's landfills.

Laurence Zwimpfer, chairperson of CANZ and organiser of the event, says the award is fantastic recognition of the effort invested by hundreds of volunteers and over 50 funding partners.

“The success of last year’s event proved that New Zealanders have been looking for a sustainable way to dispose of e-waste for sometime. It is great to have this initiative acknowledged by the Prime Minister and the Ministry for the Environment,” said Mr Zwimpfer.

“e-waste is a huge issue in this country as it is for the rest of the world; we are looking forward to a long-term sustainable industry solution, but in the meantime eDay is helping to plug a gap and buy New Zealand a little more time without generating new problems in our landfills,” he continued.

Further funding is now the challenge for a 2008 national eDay, scheduled to be in October.

“We have received interest from close to 30 regions that are keen to host eDay locally, through which we could potentially divert 1,000 tonnes of e-waste from our landfills. While this is fantastic news for our environment, CANZ is a non-profit organisation and cannot cover the cost of environmentally safe disposal of this equipment on our own.” said Mr Zwimpfer.

“We are asking for support from everyone involved in the supply chain, including manufacturers, retailers and ICT service providers. Central and local government have offered to assist where they can, but it is understandable that neither wish to take full funding responsibility.”

Mr Zwimpfer said e-waste and its toxic materials, including lead and mercury from old computers, is globally the fastest growing type of waste being sent to landfill - posing a potential toxic hazard for people, animals and the environment.

A recent survey by the CANZ estimated over 16 million electronic devices were being used in New Zealand, with nearly one million being added each year.

eDay gives people the chance to dispose of their old computer equipment and mobile phones quickly in an environmentally-friendly way, and is aimed at raising awareness about the environmental and health dangers of e-waste dumped in landfills.

“One of our key aims is to increase community awareness of the hazardous nature of electronic equipment, making it clear that disposal in landfills is not a sustainable option,” he concluded.

The Green Ribbon Awards are presented annually by the Minister for the Environment to recognise the outstanding contributions of individuals, organisations and businesses to sustaining, protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s environment.

eDay 2008 will take place in October. Venue details will be released shortly.

CANZ is a not-for-profit trust set up by the 2020 Communications Trust in 2000 with support from the Ministry of Education to promote the reuse and recycling of computer equipment.

ends

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