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E-waste effects on the NZ environment

E-waste effects on the NZ environment – dumping our future

New Zealand households are dumping more than 209 tonnes of computer printer cartridges into the country’s landfills each year. And that’s just the tip of the e-waste problem.

Just released research, undertaken by BRC Research, shows that more than 1.2 million printer cartridges are disposed of in general household rubbish every year. That’s the equivalent of the combined weight of two All Black rugby teams every week, or a nine-month-old rhinoceros every day.

Geoff Smith of Cartridge World New Zealand, a printer cartridge refilling company, finds the latest figures disturbing.

“The figures released in this research only take into account the average New Zealand household with a computer and printer,” says Mr Smith. “How much more extensive is this problem if the number of printer cartridges disposed of by businesses are taken into account?

“Aside from the sheer physical space these cartridges take in the landfills we know that the plastic used in printer cartridges takes significantly more than 100 years to biodegrade. The environmental impact in New Zealand of continuing to throw away this number of printer cartridges every year must be untenable in the long term. It’s time we took a long hard look at how we can reuse, recycle, or reduce the amount of computer consumables we use in New Zealand. The use of printer cartridges is only going to increase as more and more New Zealanders become computer literate and use the internet and new technologies like digital cameras.”

The disposal of printer cartridges is only a small part of the growing e-waste problem around the world. E-waste is an informal term used to describe electronic products that are nearing the end of their useful life. The environmental costs of the global computer and computer consumables waste problem are causing concern around the world. According to Lyra Research, the leading global provider of research for the imaging industry, almost one billion toner and inkjet printer cartridges were shipped worldwide in 2002, and they forecast this will growth to 1.14 billion by 2006. Currently in the USA industry sources say almost eight printer cartridges are thrown away in the country every second.

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