Changing the channel on TV waste

New Zealanders buy 300,000 new television sets each year, leaving a lot of old unwanted ones that need disposing of. So the Government should be commended for its TV TakeBack scheme, which has so far seen more than 200,000 TVs collected for recycling.

There’s only one problem with the initiative. It’s temporary. It started last year and finishes this year. Meanwhile Kiwis will continue to buy new tellies and need to get rid of the old ones.

The Government’s scheme is what I’d call a piecemeal approach to TV recycling.

That’s why the Greens would introduce a permanent, year-round solution to TV waste, so no TVs end up in landfill.

We don’t want TVs in landfills because they contain hazardous and highly toxic materials like lead. But they also contain useful materials like copper, precious metals and glass, which can be recycled into other products.

The Green Party would prefer to recycle old TVs so they can be used as something else, and return the cost of doing so to the producer. So every producer of a TV would pay a fee for every TV they import or manufacture.

These importers and manufactures are currently passing the burden of product recycling onto taxpayers and recycling companies. But the responsibility needs to go back on them. If they have to pay for the recycling of their products it gives them an incentive to import or manufacture televisions that are easier and cheaper to recycle.


About Denise Roche 161 Articles

Green Party MP

9 Comments Posted

  1. Mr Stringer continues to be well wide of the mark.

    Of course, ultimately, the costs of dispoal are paid by the people, all costs are.

    The difference is that when I bought my HP printer, I’d already paid for its lifecycle cost including disposal, its part of my benefit of ownership. If I just chuck the printer in the bin, then everyone is paying the disposal cost for my printer.

    Surely its fairer that I pay the disposal costs of the stuff I buy, and you pay the disposal costs of the stuff you buy, rather than us all just paying a disposal “tax”?

  2. Trevor

    Any cost imposed by government legislation is, ipsofacto, a tax by any other name.

    a compulsory contribution to state revenue, or offset of state expenditure, levied by the government on workers’ income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions.
    “higher taxes will dampen consumer spending”
    synonyms: levy, tariff, duty, toll, excise, impost, contribution, assessment, tribute, tithe, charge, fee; More

  3. Mr. Buckley is, sadly, in error.
    The relative piece of the link states that

    The directive imposes the responsibility for the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment on the manufacturers or distributors of such equipment.[3] It requires that those companies establish an infrastructure for collecting WEEE, in such a way that “Users of electrical and electronic equipment from private households should have the possibility of returning WEEE at least free of charge”. The directive saw the formation of national “producer compliance schemes”,[4] into which manufacturers and distributors paid an annual fee for the collection and recycling of associated waste electronics from household waste recycling centres.

    It does not restrict the ability of the manufacturer or distributor to add this cost to their prices, which are then passed on to the consumer. Something which has already happened.

  4. On this occasion, Mr Stringer is well wide of the mark.

    All across Europe, much electrical and electronic stuff is recycled at the manufacturers expense, see the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive.

    Some manufacturers apply the WEEE principles in New Zealand already, even when not required to by law, see, for example, HP, who have a global approach to recycling their stuff.

    This isn’t some crazy dream, or a tax, its a system that works in many countries and has done so for some years. More than that, it isn’t some scheme the New Zealand government has to invent, as it already exists. And its a scheme that manufacturers across the world are already involved in. The bugs have been ironed out. We could just adopt the WEEE directive into law.

  5. No dave, it is not a tax. The government imposes an obligation on the manufacturer or importer. If they provide TVs which are 100% recyclable at minimal cost, their products will be able to be sold at a lower cost. If they continue to supply TVs that are hard to recycle, their costs go up but their competitors’ costs don’t, so they are going to struggle to sell those sets and make a profit.

    The cost of recycling doesn’t pass through the government’s hands, so it cannot be a tax.


  6. Trevor
    The government imposes a charge on a supplier – a tax by any other name that would spend so well.

    The manufacturer passes the cost (with a margin,) on to the distributor, who passes it on (with a margin,) to the retailer, who passes it on (with a margin,) to the consumer.

    Because of the government the consumer pays significantly more than if the government had not imposed a charge on the supplier. In other words, the consumer pays the tax,plus cost of money and profit margin.

    So you’re right; it’s not just a tax, it’s a tax PLUS.

  7. dave – read Denise’s last line again:
    “If they (the manufacturers) have to pay for the recycling of their products it gives them an incentive to import or manufacture televisions that are easier and cheaper to recycle.”

    That isn’t a tax.


  8. Why not just say you want to apply a recycling tax as well as GST on items you (the party) believe should be recycled? The distraction of saying the manufacturers should play is a poor red herring to avoid saying the consumer will have to pay the increase.

    All the gobbledygook isn’t going to make your message any more or less palatable, if you want the government to raise taxes for a specific purpose, just say so.

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