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Trust warns of 'e-waste' crisis

Trust warns of 'e-waste' crisis
New Zealand may be facing an e-waste crisis, with the imminent switch to digital TV posing a serious threat, according to a new study.

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New Zealand may be facing an e-waste crisis, with the imminent switch to digital TV posing a serious threat, according to a new study.

The eDay New Zealand Trust has released a report estimating that 2.2 million televisions and 1.5 million home computers, will be dumped in the next few years, each containing toxic cathode ray tubes.

Chairman Laurence Zwimpfer says: “Our desire for the latest gadget has resulted in this huge environmental crisis in New Zealand and the world.

"This hunger for electronics must be met with Government regulation to ensure thousands of tonnes of toxic e-waste will not be dumped in our landfills," he says.

With the release of the report, the eDay Trust is calling on industry and the government to work together for a permanent solution. They propose a national co-regulatory recycling scheme.

“We are not talking about heavy-handed government intervention,” says Zwimpfer. “We’re calling on the government to give the IT and TV industries a clear commitment to support an industry managed scheme with the necessary regulations to ensure all suppliers and importers contribute equitably to the costs of a national recycling scheme.”

Australia passed its Product Stewardship Bill in June. The first scheme to be established under the new legislation will be a national, industry-led television and computer recycling scheme, which is to be phased in from the end of 2011.

Zwimpfer says New Zealand is falling behind the rest of the world.

“...the voluntary approach advocated by the New Zealand Government is simply not working, and the evidence we present in our report from other countries strongly suggests that voluntary schemes will never work for waste electronics,” he says.

The report launch coincides with the news that eDay 2011 has been denied funding through the government’s Waste Minimisation Fund.

“This is a huge blow to the 60 communities that participated in eDay last year and have been encouraging their citizens to store their e-waste for this year’s event, that is now not likely to happen,” says Zwimpfer.

“While some e-waste collection options are emerging in the larger centres, most of these involve a charge to the person dropping off the equipment; a single CRT television or computer monitor can cost as much as $20. Our report makes it clear that any scheme that relies on users paying this level of charge on disposal is doomed to failure plus there still needs to be a service to smaller communities.”

Zwimpfer says the eDay Trust will continue to look for alternative ways to provide a free e-waste disposal service to communities.

“We are already discussing a more distributed ‘eDay everyday’ model with TES-AMM, a global recycling organisation, involving potentially hundreds of drop-off locations throughout New Zealand that will be free to the consumer at the time of disposal.

“This scheme will be substantially funded by suppliers, but at least initially, like eDay it will need to still rely on strong community and central government support,” he says.

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