Seven Tonnes of Electronic Waste Diverted from Landfill
Over 7 tonnes of South Taranaki’s electronic waste has been diverted from landfill in the last (2019/20) financial year, about the same weight as an adult African Elephant or Tyrannosaurus rex, says South Taranaki District Council (STDC) Environment and Sustainability Manager, Rebecca Martin.
“STDC set up an E-Waste (Electronic Waste) Recycling Subsidy in early 2019 in an effort to divert these hard to recycle electronic items. E-waste is a term applied to electronic equipment that is no longer functional or necessary. It includes small appliances, printers, televisions and computer waste (keyboards, screens etc). It is estimated that 80,000 tonnes of E-waste is disposed of into NZ landfills every year,” says Martin.
“This E-Waste subsidy, which was paid for by the Waste Minimisation Levy Fund, was designed to create an affordable option for people to recycle electronic waste such as laptops, screens, keyboards, small appliances and so on. Our records show that as a result just over 7 tonnes of electronic waste has been diverted from landfill last year, which is a great start,” she says.
Martin says that, due to the success of the E-Waste programme, the Council has also started accepting undamaged, domestic handheld batteries at the Hāwera Transfer Station free of charge.
“These handheld batteries are then collected by New Zealand company E-Cycle for recycling. Once batteries are received and sorted into the different battery chemistries, for example alkaline or lithium, they are sent to reputable local and international specialist recyclers for extraction and conversion back into raw materials or for re-use in new products,” says Martin.
“We’ve wanted to put this in place for some time now as battery acid, amongst other corrosive material, is really bad for the environment and a huge contributor to the poisonous leachate by-product of landfills. To make it easier for residents to recycle batteries, we are also investigating options for battery recycling stations at local retailers, but this is still in an early planning phase” she says.
“In the meantime, please don’t put your undamaged domestic batteries in with your general waste – take them to the Hāwera transfer station for recycling.”
You can find more details on the Council’s E-Waste recycling programme here
Check out https://www.zerowastetaranaki.org.nz/ under B for Batteries for more information about where you can dispose of non-domestic and other types of batteries, like car batteries for example.
Many components of E-waste contain precious or naturally rare and uncommon metals. Dr Will Barker, CEO of Mint Innovation, who recently set up NZ’s first rare metal recovery facility, says approximately 50 million tonnes of E-waste was generated worldwide last year, with the metallic value alone estimated to be close to US$50 billion. This includes US$22 billion in gold, found primarily in circuit boards.