e-Cycle

Wanaka Wastebusters is an official RCN e-Cycle depot. We also pick up electronic waste from the RCN e-Cycle depot at the Frankton transfer station. We can recycle desktop computers, laptops, cellphones, printers, cables, CRT monitors, mice, keyboards, UPS, modems, routers etc (see below for a full list).

There is a charge to cover the cost, which we have tried to keep as low as we can (cellphones are recycled free as part of a fundraiser for Starship hospital). 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.

We can’t take CRT TVs or CRT computer monitors for recycling, because a user-pays charge would be set at $40 – and we don’t think it’s reasonable to ask our community to pay that much to recycle a TV at the end of its life. If you have an old TV or monitor, the best advice we can give is to hang onto it until a viable product stewardship scheme is put in place.

Since we set up the RCN e-Cycle depots in Queenstown and Wanaka in 2011, we’ve recycled over 70 tonnes of electronic waste.

e-Cycle drop off charges

Computers
(desktops, laptops and servers)
$6
LCD Monitors $12
Network Equipment
(hubs, switches, routers, patch panels and modems)
$5
Desktop printers (desktop – large business models) $15 – $69
Faxes and scanners $12
Cellphones (Starship hospital fundraiser) FREE

Why e-Cycle electronic waste?

Computer equipment and cellphones 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 cellphones also contain valuable metals, such as copper, platinum and gold. Steel, aluminum, glass and some plastics can also be recycled. Between 70 and 90 per cent of the material in scrap computer equipment (by weight) is potentially recyclable or reusable.

Where does it go?

We are working with RCN, a NZ-owned family firm in Auckland which will organise all the reprocessing and refurbishing of the e-waste collected around the country.  RCN is committed to doing as much as possible of the recovery and processing of e-waste in New Zealand.

All of the e-waste dropped off to Wanaka Wastebusters is sent to Christchurch for processing.  Some items will be refurbished or recycled (cabling, metals, unleaded glass) there. Other materials are sent off-shore (circuit boards, cartridges, batteries and plastic), because there is no option to do it in New Zealand.

Members of the RCN team have visited the off-shore factories, and report that their working conditions are of a high standard, and that they are ISO 14001 accredited and meet international regulations to minimise environmental harm. The factories are located in Australia, Singapore, Japan and China.

Product Stewardship

Wanaka Wastebusters is completely committed to product stewardship for e-waste. We want to see the computer and TV industry take 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.