Electronic waste recycling
You can recycle electronic waste (e-waste) at Wastebusters, including desktop computers, laptops, TVs, cellphones, printers, cables, mice, keyboards, modems and routers etc.
There is a charge to cover the cost of safe recycling of electronic waste, but we keep it as low as we can. We’ve found that most people are happy to pay for their e-waste to be recycled safely and responsibly, when they understand why we have to charge.
Currently there is no other way to cover the costs of recycling other than to charge a fee at the end of its life. In the long run, we would like to see the costs of recycling collected up-front when electronic equipment is sold to the consumer. We believe a compulsory product stewardship scheme would solve the funding problems around electronic waste recycling and we’re stoked that it was declared a priority product in 2020.
The highest charges are for CRT (box) TVs, CRT monitors and large business printers. This is because they are very bulky and heavy, making them very expensive to transport to the reprocessors and to recycle once they’re there. Unlike computers and cellphones, there are very few valuable materials inside them to offset the transport and recycling costs.
Why recycle electronic waste?
Computer equipment and cell-phones contain toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. If put in a landfill, the metals can cause toxic leachate which could contaminate water and soil. The plastic casing and wiring of computer equipment can also contain hazardous materials such as brominated flame retardants. Nickel cadmium rechargeable batteries (such as those used in cellphones) contains toxic cadmium.
Computer equipment and cell-phones also contain valuable metals, such as copper, platinum and gold. Steel, aluminum, glass and some plastics can also be recycled. Between 70 and 90 percent of the material in scrap computer equipment (by weight) is potentially recyclable or reusable.
Where does it go?
The e-waste dropped off to Wastebusters is sent to E-Cycle to be dismantled and separated into component or material categories. Some items (cabling, metals, unleaded glass) will be refurbished or recycled there. Other materials are sent off-shore (circuit boards, cartridges, batteries and plastic), because there is no option to process them in New Zealand.
Wastebusters has been advocating for product stewardship for e-waste for years and we’re stoked that in 2020 it was declared a priority product for regulated product stewardship. We are looking forward to the computer and TV industry taking responsibility for the waste they create, and for the cost of safe and responsible recycling to be recognised as a cost of production. Until that happens, we will continue to do everything we can to keep electronic waste out of the landfill.