What is e-Waste? Electronic waste, or e-Waste, refers to all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and its parts that have been discarded by its owner as waste without the intent of re-use.
Unsurprisingly, electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world, as the use of electronics such as phones, laptops, and PCs has grown rapidly in the last 30 years. The rate in which we replace our old electronics is also going up; we probably all know someone who regularly replaces their smartphone when the new version comes out…
New Zealand produces an estimated 98,000 tonnes of e-waste each year, and this is growing three times faster than any other type of waste stream. Wikipedia shares the following statistics on e-Waste in Aotearoa: In 2006, there were an estimated 3.4 million televisions, 3.3 million mobile phones, 1.9 million computers and monitors, and 600,000 laptops. In 2017, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) noted that New Zealand and Australia produced the highest volumes of e-waste per capita in the world while having amongst the lowest documented rates of recycling. A report produced for the Ministry for the Environment, estimated that New Zealand will generate 28.7 kg of e-waste per capita by 2030 without recycling and 27.1kg with recycling.
Why does it matter? e-Waste is home to some nasty heavy metals that are especially toxic. These include Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, and Arsenic. These metals, going into landfill, have a negative impact on our waterways and surrounding plant life. Despite all the bad things inside your old electronics, there’s still a lot of good in there too. Old computers, laptops, and mobile phones all contain high amounts of precious metals like gold and silver. So how can we do something better with them?
Making our own eDay eDay was started in New Zealand to overcome the problem of disposal of electronic devices. The initiative was started in 2006 at one location only. Around 119,000 lb (54 tonnes) of old computers, cell phones and other non-biodegradable electronic material were gathered. In the following years, the event was extended to more and more locations, so that now many New Zealanders come to dispose of their electronic devices every year on 4 October.
Wāhi Tukurua (Mercury Bay Resource Recovery Centre) is embracing the spirit of eDay by hosting an event at the popular Labour Weekend Whiti City Market at Soldier’s Memorial Park, Whitianga, on Saturday, 22 October between 9am – 1pm.
For a gold coin donation, the Wāhi Tukurua volunteers are collecting Hand Held Devices. That means anything electrical which you hold in your hand to operate (like a cell phone) rather than a free-standing device (like a TV or computer screen). The golden rule for the gold coin is that the device should be no bigger than a shoe box. This includes hairdryers, toasters, kettles, play-station controls, hand drills, laptops, cords, chargers, etc. Check out @mercurybayresourcerecoverycentre on Facebook for full details or email the team on email@example.com. For a charge of $5 per item above this size, other devices will be accepted. There will however be a full e-Waste drive at Wāhi Tukurua on Moewai Road in May 2023, which will have drive- through facilities for easy off-load of larger items.