‘E-waste’ – waste electrical and electronic equipment – is a fast-growing problem in New Zealand. Every year about 80,000 tonnes of e-waste is disposed of in New Zealand. Many of these products contain toxic substances such as lead.
TV TakeBack is part of the Ministry for the Environment’s e-waste work programme setting guidelines for managing and handling this waste in an environmentally sound manner. It has been launched to coincide with the switchover from analogue to digital television – due to be complete by December 2013 – to encourage the safe and responsible recycling of unwanted televisions.
While you do not need a new TV to watch digital – you only need Freeview, SKY, Igloo or TelstraClear – some New Zealanders are using it as an opportunity to upgrade their TV sets.
TV recycling allows for the valuable materials such as copper and steel to be recovered and reused for other products – and for the hazardous ones to be disposed of safely.
Televisions – particularly old TVs with a cathode ray tube (CRT) – contain hazardous substances such as lead that can leach into the soils and lead to environmental problems.
All types of TVs can be recycled. Precious and ‘rare’ earth’ metals such as gold and iridium are removed and recovered in specialist facilities overseas and used in new electronic items. Other metals such as steel are melted down and used in new items for the construction or agricultural industries. Glass is sent overseas to be remanufactured into new CRTs.
Recyclers are also investigating new processes and solutions for the recycling of leaded and unleaded glass.
The Ministry for the Environment has a range of information available on its website with regards to the recycling of other electronic devices in addition to televisions.
Many electronics brands operate take-back and recycling services, for a reasonable fee or for free, for their own branded equipment, for example; Dell, Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, Apple and Toshiba. Information can be found on their New Zealand websites.
You can also make a difference by reusing and upgrading your equipment. It is better for the environment to repair and upgrade your equipment, than replace it with something new. Some products can be upgraded by replacing one or two components instead of the entire unit. You can also buy second-hand equipment to give used products a new life.
Also, be selective. When purchasing new equipment, choose products that have a reduced environmental impact, such as computer equipment and televisions that use less energy, are made with recyclable and recycled materials, and are easier to upgrade, fix and recycle.
A list of drop off points in TV TakeBack regions is available www.tvtakeback.govt.nz/where-can-i-recycle
To find out about recycling other electronic products go to www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/waste/weee/.