How To Responsibly Dispose Of Old Electronics In New Zealand

Jan 6, 2021
By Staff writer

Table of Contents

How does one dispose of old electronics in New Zealand? What do you do with old electronics when you're done with them? Some keep them in their cupboards, while others simply dump them in the bin. But if you've ever wondered where they go, and how to throw old electronics out properly, read on to learn more.

According to a study conducted by the New Zealand government, electronic waste — commonly referred to as e-waste — is a growing problem in the country. It accounts for over 80,000 tonnes of waste per year. For a perspective, it’s equivalent to 17 kilograms per Kiwi! These junks contain harmful chemicals like lead, mercury, and cadmium. 

E-waste is a looming problem that needs to be addressed now. Here’s how to responsibly dispose of old electronics or e-waste in New Zealand.

Why is e-waste a global problem?

Most e-wastes are sent to developing countries in Asia, and only 25% are being processed properly. The study on 'Environmental and health impacts due to e-waste disposal in China' shows that 70% of the world's e-waste go to Guiyu, a small town in the Guangdong province of China. Chinese waste traders then set up shop in other Asian countries such as Bangkok, Thailand, where they illegally get locals to mine e-wastes for gold and other valuable metals. The process for this involves "bathing circuit boards in nitric and hydrochloric acid, thus poisoning waterways and communities." But that's just one thing.

When products are disposed of incorrectly, it ends up poisoning the soil and groundwater. E-waste disposal is not highlighted in the media as much as plastics are, but it poses even greater health and environmental risks. According to a 2014 study from the Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering, "Compared to conventional municipal wastes, certain components of electronic products contain toxic substances, which can generate a threat to the environment as well as to human health.

For instance, television and computer monitors normally contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, while nickel, beryllium, and zinc can often be found in circuit boards." So while local governments figure out the proper e-waste disposal processes, it's also up to us individuals to dispose of our old gadgets responsibly.

How are electronic companies addressing the e-waste problem?

Most electronic manufacturers have been reducing their e-waste footprint over the years. They’re building smaller and slimmer devices, which only need a few amounts of materials to build. While this seems like a great thing, there’s a big caveat behind this.

Electronics like smartphones, laptops, and televisions are all a part of our daily lives. And often, people replace their old electronics even before they've reached their maximum life span. Plus, most companies lose support for their products over the years. This forces people to buy a new product even when their old one is working fine.

Printer cartridges are the biggest culprit

The biggest culprit of the e-waste problem is printer cartridges. Most people dispose of them irresponsibly, thinking they’re harmless because they’re empty. However, they still contain carcinogens and other chemicals even when empty. Worse, it takes 450-1000 years for these chemicals to decompose.

What are the best ways to dispose of electronics responsibly?

New Zealand is lacking in e-waste disposal policies compared to other countries. No policy or regulation is in the works to address the e-waste problem in the country. There are a few government-funded initiatives in the past like e-Day collections and the TV takeback campaign. However, these no longer exist today.

Still, there are plenty of organisations and non-government initiatives that encourage responsible disposal of e-waste. Here are some of the best ways to dispose of your e-waste.

Sell old electronics

If your electronics are still working fine, sell them! A lot of people are willing to buy used products for whatever purpose. Some break down their parts to study them further, while some simply like to keep it as a collection.

This is one thing to consider before you throw out your junk, only for them to end up in landfills. You may list these products on different online marketplaces like Facebook or TradeMe.

Donate to charities

If your device still functions fine and is less than three years old, donate them to charities instead of throwing them away. You help the less fortunate have their own device and minimize your clutter at home.

Before donating, make sure the electronics are in good condition and don’t need major repairs. Charities often can’t pay for replacement parts or repairs.

Choose the trade-in option

Some giant manufacturers now offer a trade-in whenever you upgrade to a new product. You simply have to bring your old device, then get a new one at the store. This is a better option than mindlessly throwing your old gadgets out.

What’s more, you often get the new product at a cheaper price! Examples of devices you can trade in are smartphones, e-readers, tablets, and wireless home speakers.

Go to the nearest e-waste disposal facility

As Kiwis go big on sustainability, more and more organisations accept e-waste for recycling. Simply drop off your old gadgets at recycling facilities in New Zealand. They break down the electronic parts and sell the valuable rare earth materials to big manufacturers. 

While this may not seem like a lot, this avoids the harmful and often deadly extraction of these metals in the environment. Check the nearest e-waste recycling centre near you. Whether you’re in North or South Island, different organisations are recycling a wide variety of e-waste, and you'll easily find one for sure!

Dispose of your electronic waste responsibly and find the best recycling station near you! Search for the right e-waste disposal facility place using fast and reliable broadband that matches your needs. Compare the best broadband plans in New Zealand using glimp’s comparison tool.

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