eDay Collection Stats

2007 – 2010

Number of cars through eDay sites: 57,700

Estimated number of items collected: 272,900

Estimated total tonnage: 3,220


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ewaste Questions & Answers

Q&As: New Zealand faces an ewaste crisis, says new report

1. Why is ewaste a problem?
Electronic waste (ewaste) and its toxic ingredients is globally the fastest growing waste stream. Landfilling does not allow for recovery and reuse of valuable materials such as copper and gold. There's also a risk that hazardous substances dumped inappropriately will pollute our environment by leaching into surrounding land and waterways.

2. How were your figures of 2.2 million CRT televisions and 1.5 million unused home computer monitors calculated?
Our figure of 2.2 million for the number of older style cathode ray tube (CRT) television sets was based on figures in a January 2011 report by the Government's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). Their figures were based on analysis by Nielsen Research. We cross-checked the figure against information from other sources, including GfK retail research.
Estimates for the number of unused CRT computer screens in homes and businesses have been extrapolated from figures published in the 2006 eWaste in New Zealand report. Those figures were largely based on research carried out for MfE by UMR Research. Changes since then are based on broad understanding of CRT imports, disposals and replacement of still-functioning CRT screens with flat LCD screens. Sales figures for CRTs and flat screens came from IDC Market Research.

3. Can you explain the disparity between your figures and the Government's ewaste estimates for television disposals?
We suspect the government might be using our driver survey from eDay 2010 to calculate their estimate of 400,000 analogue televisions. Our driver survey of 10,000 drivers indicated that 25% households were storing an old television, waiting for disposal. As at 30 June 2011, there are an estimated 1.65M households in New Zealand; the eDay survey suggests around 400,000 of these have at least one TV set waiting for disposal. But this ignores the households with a second or third unit, even if the main unit is already digital. It also ignores the estimated 30% of households (500,000) that currently only have an analogue set. Our figures are based on the known number of CRT televisions imported into New Zealand and our assumption is that most of these will be disposed of during the next three years.

4. The government has funded e-Cycle as an initiative to address the problem? Why do you still believe a product stewardship scheme is needed?
The e-Cycle is a good initiative in starting to set up a network of ‘everyday' collection facilities (albeit only 20 to date), but as long as consumers are required to pay (up to $20 per item) to dispose of their ewaste, we do not believe this will have any significant impact on diverting ewaste from landfills. With current landfill charges typically between $100 and $120 per tonne, a trailer load of monitors or televisions could be dumped in the landfill for the price of responsibly recycling just one monitor. A product stewardship scheme will remove this disparity by shifting the cost of recycling to the consumer at the time of purchase. Free disposal will encourage consumers to use the e-Cycle drop off points.

5. The Government believes CRT TV owners will purchase a set top box instead of disposing of their old TV. What do you say to that?
The Government though its Going Digital programme is trying to persuade New Zealanders that they do not need to dispose of their old analogue TV when the analogue TV signal is turned off from 2012. The Government is advising consumers to purchase a digital decoder and UHF aerial, if they don't already have one. The cost of a decoder is between $150 and $200 and if a technician needs to visit to install the equipment, this could easily double the cost of conversion. For not much more ($300-$400), consumers are able to purchase a new 19-22" Freeview-enabled high definition flat screen TV. We have even discovered 32" flat screen TVs for as low as $350 during special promotions. We do not see why anyone will want to hold onto their old analogue TV when faced with these facts. There is strong evidence from Australia that a similar effort by government to persuade consumers to keep their old TVs has failed and even though in some states, free decoders are being offered to households, analogue sets are still being disposed of by the container load.

6. Why do you believe that voluntary regulation won't work?
The Waste Minimisation Act was introduced in 2008. Three years later, while voluntary product stewardship schemes have been developed in some sectors, none has emerged for the television or the IT sectors. Furthermore, we can find no evidence of successful voluntary schemes for ewaste anywhere in the world. The government in Australia has recognised this and is targeting television and computer equipment as the first products to be regulated under their new product stewardship legislation (enacted in June 2011). A voluntary scheme does not deal with problem of free-riders or parallel importers who may obtain competitive advantage by not contributing to a product stewardship scheme. Without some degree of regulation, there is too much opportunity for parallel importers and unbranded suppliers to undercut the major brand suppliers, who at the international level are all making a strong commitment to ensure that their products are responsibly recycled.

7. Is there an economic benefit to product stewardship for electronic products?
A 2009 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, commissioned by the Australian government, concluded that there is a net economic benefit to the community from product stewardship for ewaste. This was instrumental in the Australian government commitment to proceed with legislation and regulations with priority being given to television and computer products. The eDay Trust also commissioned an independent study by the Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and the results are recorded in our report. NZIER concluded there is a clear market failure and the problem of free-riders would prevent the development of voluntary schemes. They supported the co-regulatory approach being pursued in Australia.

8. Why do you think the Australian product stewardship scheme will work?

There is a strong bi-partisan commitment from government - all parties, including the Greens and independents supported the product stewardship legislation - and strong support from industry - both the television and computer sectors. With such a strong commitment from both government and industry, the scheme is much more likely to succeed than New Zealand's piecemeal and isolated initiatives to date.

9. What has been the value of eDay? Hasn't this just given the industry an excuse not to proceed with a product stewardship scheme?
eDay was developed in 2006 to raise public awareness of the benefits of recycling computers and computer-related equipment. It was hoped that product stewardship schemes would be in place with ‘everyday' drop-off points within three years. eDay has continued for five years in the absence of any other options. While eDay collections have approached 1000 tonnes of ewaste, this only represents around 5% of the estimate volume of computer and TV waste being generated every year.

10. Will there be an eDay in 2011? We don't know. We believe there should be one, but our application to the Waste Minimisation Fund was turned down this year. While we get substantial support from business and local communities, we do rely on a significant level of funding from central government and without this support it is really difficult to run a national eDay. We have set aside 12 November as a possible date, but as in previous years, we cannot commit to this until we are confident we have sufficient funding to cover all the costs.

11. How do other countries control ewaste disposal?
A large number of countries have developed laws requiring the recycling of e-waste through a product stewardship approach.  27 of the 34 OECD countries now have e-waste regulation. Australia's new law will make that 28.  Much of Asia has implemented e-waste regulation, including South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan.

12. What is co-regulation?
This terminology has been introduced in Australia to provide a product stewardship option that is neither voluntary or compulsory, but relies on a partnership between industries and government. Essentially, the product stewardship schemes are industry-managed, but rely on some regulatory support for capturing import data and for ensuring compliance by all suppliers/importers (the free-rider problem).

13. Why do you think that co-regulation is the best approach?
It is clear that voluntary schemes are not working, as it is now nearly three years since the Waste Minimisation Act was enacted, yet no voluntary schemes have emerged for computers and TVs. There is also strong evidence from other countries that voluntary schemes do not work in the consumer electronics sector. At the other end of the scale, compulsory schemes such as the WEEE Directive in Europe, can lead to high administrative costs for governments and understandably the New Zealand Government does not wish to impose unnecessary costs on business. Minister Nick Smith has argued that business would be much better at running a product stewardship scheme than government and we agree with this. The co-regulatory approach requires a commitment from both government and industry to jointly contribute to a successful scheme, with each party focusing on what they do best.

14. What are free-riders?
A free-rider is an organisation that doesn't comply with or contribute to a product stewardship scheme, but benefits from it.

15. What is the government's current stance on ewaste?The government recognises this is an issue and would prefer that industry sorts it out itself. However, it has demonstrated a willingness to support ewaste initiatives through the Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF), including eDay and RCN e-Cycle in 2010. We understand that a number of other proposals are currently being considered as part of the second round of the WMF.

16. What is product stewardship?
Wikipedia defines product stewardship as a concept whereby environmental protection centres around the product itself, and everyone involved in the lifespan of the product is called upon to take up responsibility to reduce its environmental impact. For manufacturers, this includes planning for, and if necessary, paying for the recycling or disposal of the product at the end of its useful life. This may be achieved, in part, by redesigning products to use fewer harmful substances, to be more durable, reuseable and recyclable, and to make products from recycled materials. For retailers and consumers, this means taking an active role in ensuring the proper disposal or recycling of an end-of-life product.