Pre-pay for recycling: it’s the way forward

Today the Government is crowing about their TV Takeback scheme. While I am grateful that TVs are being diverted from landfill, this solution is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.  The programme collected 23,000 televisions in the Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast, which cost the taxpayer over half a million dollars. This is more than $20 per TV.

Why should the taxpayer have to pay for this? The Government could, under current legislation, implement a permanent solution for e-waste, which would not require a taxpayer handout.

In fact, just today councils in Wellington are calling on the Government to implement a scheme whereby the producers of electronic goods pre-pay for the recycling of their products. I believe this mandatory pre-pay e-waste scheme is the way to go.

Our current system where people voluntarily pay for recycling at the time of disposal isn’t working: only about 20% of our e-waste is recycled. But a mandatory pre-pay scheme would dramatically increase this rate.

If we had more recycling of products worldwide, then we have to build fewer mines, and the world would be a cleaner, greener place. E-waste products contain gold, silver and rare earth metals.  Let’s mine our used electronic waste rather than our treasured places.

It’s time for the Government to set up and implement a permanent solution for TV waste and other e-waste. Pre-pay is the way forward.

11 thoughts on “Pre-pay for recycling: it’s the way forward

  1. This is an interesting topic to myself and good to understand how other countries across the world handle their e-waste. I run a recycling company specialising in electrical waste in the UK. Recycling of only 20% of e-waste is very poor. The previous comment about following our WEEE directive here in Europe is a valid point. Domestic users can bring their e-waste into local authority run recycling centres, along with plastics, paper, textiles etc…. Part of our council tax goes to the running of waste management from the councils but they do a good job of achieving year on year improvements in recycling.
    I understand geographically the UK is very different however the e-waste message is beginning to hit home with both businesses and domestic users. I hope this model is looked at in New Zealand and they take the good points from the system and implement them.

  2. MikeM
    Whether you do it at POS like a tax or hit the manufacturer, same thing.

    I think the point is that either way, the price at the point of sale includes the cost of disposal. The only difference is whether that cost is applied at the point of sale or earlier. The difference might boil down to how products that aren’t sold are disposed of – shop soiled TVs, etc.

    Trevor.

  3. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, the heavy lifting has already been done, see WEEE, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, which is implemented across Europe.

    They’ve been at it long enough now that both the authorities and the manufacturers have got the groove of it. Ok, it took a few goes, but its working pretty well these days.

  4. I think it is timely and a great start. I just hope this Government listens.
    There is a huge incentive to recycle these electronic elements, the US is now looking for more of the minerals needed in manufacture as China has 80% of the raw materials and is reluctant to share.
    I have a reference to an US Govt. report from the late 70’s that stated the US was looking for these base minerals in the Pacific as they were afraid then of loosing the supply from the then disruptive South Africa.
    I believe that was where the support for Roger Douglas originated and Lange eventually shut down CIA connections and Roger Douglas. The long reign of Helen Clark kept our foreign policy neutral, but now John Key is opening us up to the mining again, and of course US Foreign policy as directed by the likes of the CIA and all their corporate connections.
    It is really stupid to be mining and destroying our prescious water when we are not even looking after the materials we have already extracted.

  5. I agree with MikeM – some years ago, I diligently researched for a place to send my obsolete computer to. I found one, in Auckland (350kms away) and sent it. It cost me $120. I couldn’t persuade my neighbour to do the same thing. When I tried to find a more local place to take a couple of dead printers, they just didn’t want to know. The ones who reluctantly took them I suspect simply threw them in the dump.
    If the price of recycling was built into the manufacture and there was a system of recycling, I think we would see far more interest in doing that.

  6. Whether you do it at POS like a tax or hit the manufacturer, same thing.

    How so? If it’s pre-charged at point of sale, it ensures that proper disposal is paid for, there’s minimal cost barrier for an owner to return it to an expensive facility to ensure it’s properly recycled, or trade it in to a business who’ll happily take it for their own profit. If it’s necessary to pay high costs at the time of disposal, there’s every incentive for people to treat it as regular rubbish or simply throw it into a public bin our off a cliff.

  7. Why should the taxpayer have to pay for this? The Government could, under current legislation, implement a permanent solution for e-waste, which would not require a taxpayer handout.

    ROFL! How can you say that and keep a straight face Denise!?!? I never knew the Green party was so concerned with taxpayer dollars!

    All jokes aside I read the article in Dom post today and wondered why the cost of disposal isn’t incorporated in the purchase price? Whether you do it at POS like a tax or hit the manufacturer, same thing. Only answers part of the problem though, still plenty of other waste & landfill problems that need solving too…

  8. Councils of the Wellington region have agreed to support a remit to the Annual Conference of Local Government NZ (LGNZ) for a national product stewardship approach for e-waste.  

    Electronic waste (e-waste), including televisions and computers, has for years been a frequent reoccurring topic of discussion at the regional Waste Forum meetings, where I represent Greater Wellington Regional Council.

    A Waste Minimisation Bill was enacted in 2008, and provided a legislative framework for product stewardship. However, the Government has failed to recognise the need for follow-on regulations to implement the provisions of the Act. The Australians and the rest of the developed world put New Zealand to shame – they all have advanced product stewardship schemes while we sit and do basically nothing. The switchover to digital television created a fantastic opportunity to address this issue, but all we have seen is a subsidised interim take-back scheme (not unlike eDay) (TV Takeback: http://www.tvtakeback.govt.nz/). There is an urgent need for a long-term solution to address computers and televisions currently coming into the country now and into the future.  

    Initiatives focused on e-waste and product stewardship are in the national interest and also are relevant to all local government because e-waste recovery and recycling is a cost to all of us. This will also stop the increase in illegal dumping of e-waste.

    In past years, the Regional Waste Forum has communicated its wish for a product stewardship approach for e-waste with successive Ministers for the Environment.  It is hoped that my remit, when supported by all local Government councils at LGNZ conference 2013 (1 Jul 2013 – 23 Jul 2013) will finally push National Government into action. 

  9. From a Green point of view there is a very strong argument to charge manufacturers and sellers for disposal, to prevent planned obsolescence.

  10. “In fact, just today councils in Wellington are calling on the Government to implement a scheme whereby the producers of electronic goods pre-pay for the recycling of their products. I believe this mandatory pre-pay e-waste scheme is the way to go.”

    Hi Denise. You didn’t mention it, but I think one of the strong arguments in favour of schemes such as this are the planned obsolescence strategies of many of today’s companies. eg. Today’s tech companies generally don’t want their products to reliably last longer than a year or two, because if they did then there would be less interest in the successors.

    Apple is now being sued in Brazil, for allegedly designing the iPad 3 without a camera so it could re-sell an improved product (the iPad 4) just months later. Whether there was malice in that happening in that specific instance or not, this type of stuff happens all over the industry. Manufacturers want products to fall apart and/or become obsolete relatively soon after warranties expire, just so they can sell more electronics to the same people.

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