18 Feb 2019

Time to crack down on electronic waste?

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:24 pm on 18 February 2019

Up to 98 percent of this country's electrical waste could be going to landfill, according to a case study in the Whangārei district. 

E-waste

E-waste Photo: Flickr public domain image

It's estimated New Zealanders create 98,000 tonnes of electrical or e-waste every year, however only a small portion is being recycled, through voluntary schemes. 

Author of the study, Vicktoria Blake, from Massey University said unlike New Zealand, the European Union has prioritised e-waste and created product stewardship schemes.

"They provide collections, stations, companies that are creating electrical and electronic products are actually changing the way they design their products, so they can be easily managed at the end of life.

"We need to  start making products to last," she said

The 2017 Global E-waste Monitor found as of 2016 Northern Europe achieved an e-waste collection rate of 49 percent. 

New Zealand had an official collection rate of zero percent.  

Ms Blake said New Zealand's score was partly due to a lack of data. 

"We don't have enough transparent data around all forms of waste, so we need to really be getting transparent data and stop using commercial sensitivity as an excuse to not be collecting or publishing the data that's available," she said. 

She said the study recommended e-waste to be labelled as a priority product under the Waste Minimisation Act. 

E-waste is the fasted growing waste stream internationally, she said.

"At the moment we're looking at almost four million refrigerators of weight being disposed of in New Zealand each year," she said. 

She said these products were full of hazardous chemicals and research from 2009 have shown it could be entering our food if we did not manage it correctly.

  • The fight against e-waste continues
  • What happens to our e-waste?