Since eDay launched in 2007, an impressive 58,000 carloads of e-waste has been recycled, culminating in an estimated 3,200 tonnes of e-waste being diverted from landfills. There won’t be any bolstering of those numbers in 2011, however, after organisers failed to gain the government funding required.
Having supported the programme since its inception, the government turned down eDay’s application to the Waste Minimisation Fund earlier this year, opting instead to look for longer-term solutions to e-waste issues.
eDay chair Laurence Zwimpfe said with recycling and logistical costs of running the event at over $1 million, the not-for-profit trust can not support the event without the government aid.
Zwimpfe does however support the government’s decision to look for longer-term solutions, but said he is disappointed that “so little progress has been made in establishing permanent schemes”.
The eDay New Zealand Trust says eDay was only ever intended as an interim solution for raising community awareness about the importance of recycling electronic waste and to buy some time while permanent e-waste recycling solutions were put in place.
Now the trust is encouraging New Zealand communities to continue to store their e-waste or, if they are willing to pay up to $20, dispose of it at an e-Cycle recycling facility — an initiative supported by the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund.
Zwimpfer said that while e-Cycle is a “positive step”, charging for recycling forms a barrier to solving the e-waste challenge.
“Research shows that people will simply not pay $20 to drop off their old CRT computer monitor or TV when they can dump them in a landfill for almost nothing.
“Our e-waste report released earlier this year makes it clear that any scheme that relies on users paying this level of charge on disposal will not succeed. There also needs to be a service for smaller communities,” he added.
The eDay Trust is focusing on advocating for a product stewardship scheme to be put in place. The ideal scheme would incorporate the cost of recycling into the price of new products so New Zealanders can recycle responsibly at no extra cost when the equipment reaches end of life.
The development of an industry-led product stewardship scheme with regulatory support from Government was the single most important recommendation in the 179-page report on e-waste that was released by the eDay Trust in July this year.
Earlier this year Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, announced the government was planning to pursue a product stewardship scheme, similar to Australia, for managing e-waste. While the Trust supported the announcement, it is questioning why the government says the scheme is still three years away.
“We accept it will take time but three years is too late for the analogue TV switch-off, which starts in 2012 and is to be completed by the end of 2013. e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world so the time to permanently solve this crisis in New Zealand is now, not in three years time,” said Zwimpfer.