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TV recycling in limbo – dumping starts

TV recycling in limbo – dumping starts

The Government’s TV TakeBack scheme is in a mess, leaving community recycling centres which collect TVs in limbo, said Community Recycling Network spokesperson Sue Coutts

Ms Coutts said some RCN e-Cycle depots are no longer accepting TVs for recycling, and the rest are charging $40 per TV. Meanwhile a funding shortfall means there is a massive backlog of TVs from TV TakeBack waiting to be processed.

“RCN e-Cycle depots have spent years encouraging people to recycle their electronic waste, now we have to tell them either that they can’t recycle their TVs any more, or that it’s going to cost $40.

“For most people, $40 is more than they are willing or able to pay to recycle their old TV at the end of its life. We’re already seeing an increase in people dumping them at the landfill or in the street.”

TVs contain toxic components, such as leaded glass, which shouldn’t be put in landfills. The Community Recycling Network and private company RCN have worked together over the past four years to develop a nationwide network of RCN e-Cycle depots to recycle electronic waste.

Ms Coutts said RCN e-Cycle depots are frustrated and disillusioned with the outcome of TV TakeBack and the lack of any concrete plan to continue TV recycling in the future.

“We did everything in our power to make TV TakeBack a success, including paying for the cost of local promotion ourselves. But our processing partner RCN now has a massive backlog of TVs, because the Government subsidy was too low to cover the full cost of collecting, storing and processing them.”

Ms Coutts said RCN worked with depots and retailers to collect 75% of the TVs recycled during TV TakeBack.

“RCN was instrumental in making TV TakeBack available to the whole country.

“Without RCN, TV TakeBack would not have got off the ground. It’s pretty disappointing that they’ve been trying to negotiate a solution to the backlog with the Ministry for the last six months, but they have just had the run around,” she said.

A new tender process to dismantle and recycle the TV backlog was started last week, but Ms Coutts said a solution should have been found months ago.

“TV TakeBack was supposed to be a bridge to a permanent TV recycling solution. Now it seems like a bridge to nowhere,” she said.

Environment Minister Amy Adams today put out a discussion document seeking feedback on whether a mandatory product stewardship scheme for electronic waste should be put in place.

“We went through exactly the same process in 2009, with pretty much the same consultation questions, and nothing happened,” said Ms Coutts.

“The Government already knows the answer is yes, yes, and right now. It’s frustrating that we’ve all gone back to the beginning five years later.”

“The industry was ready to go with a mandatory scheme before the 2008 election and the incoming Government backed off,” said Ms Coutts.

“What concerns me is the number of TVs that will be dumped while the talking goes on. We need action, and we need it now.

Under a product stewardship scheme, the recycling costs of electronics are paid upfront by the importers, manufacturers or retailers. Making it mandatory means that it is fair throughout the industry.

“It’s like paying a deposit to cover the costs of recycling,” said Ms Coutts “Involving the industry solves the dilemma of how to get the money to pay for the recycling costs. It also encourages better design to reduce recycling costs, making recycling a more efficient process.”

Australia already has a product stewardship scheme for electronics in place.

“It’s time we caught up with the Aussies. They are dealing with most of the same importers and producers that bring electronics into New Zealand, so half the work has already been done” she said.

ENDS

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