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Funding for ewaste recycling welcomed but will users pay?

10 August 2011

Funding for ewaste recycling welcomed but will users pay?

The eDay New Zealand Trust has welcomed the announcement today by the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Dr Nick Smith, that the government is going to provide more than $1million over the next two years to promote ewaste recycling, but has raised questions about whether New Zealanders will pay to have their ewaste properly recycled.

“We are pleased that the Minister is giving priority to this issue. With the imminent switch to digital television from September 2012, urgent action is needed to address our growing ewaste mountain,” said Laurence Zwimpfer, Chair of the eDay New Zealand Trust.

“However we have real concerns that any scheme that relies on users having to pay to recycle their old computers and televisions will simply not work,” he continued. “There is already evidence from a number of the early e-Cycle drop-off centres that the majority of people will simply not pay $20 to recycle their old TV when they can dump it in the landfill for almost nothing.”

Even in areas where Councils are choosing to subsidise the drop-off charges, some local authorities are having second thoughts when they receive the invoice for transport and recycling costs.

“The establishment of 15 more permanent drop-off centres is a good step forward, but they are likely to become expensive white elephants if communities refuse to pay the charges,” said Mr Zwimpfer.

“We presented a report to the Minister last month that sets out a clear pathway to resolve this problem – by pursuing a product stewardship approach with suppliers footing the recycling bill as new equipment is imported. Australia has chosen to go down this path and New Zealand needs to follow suit.”

Product stewardship schemes mean that the cost of recycling is effectively built into the price of new productsso consumers can recycle responsibly at no extra cost when the equipment reaches end of life.

“We are pleased to hear the Minister express an interest in following the Australian model, but the government needs to move more quickly and give the IT and TV industries a clear commitment to support an industry managed product stewardship scheme with the necessary regulations to ensure all suppliers and importers contribute equitably to the costs of a national recycling scheme,” Mr Zwimpfer said.

“We are disappointed that the Minister has given up on the one-day eDay collection model. This continues to be strongly supported by local authorities and the community, especially in areas where there are no e-Cycle collection depots. We think that high profile events such as eDay still have an important role to play until properly funded product stewardship schemes are fully operational,” Mr Zwimpfer concluded.

The eDay NZ Trust report released last month, titled Ewaste in New Zealand: five years on, calls on industry and Government to work together and permanently solve the increasing ewaste problem through a national co-regulatory product stewardship based recycling scheme.

The report can be downloaded from www.eday.org.nz.


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