October 1, 2008

Unload Your Old Circuits

This Saturday is the ideal time to dispose of your computer junk, and help the environment.


THIS Saturday's eDay is a win-win for the environment and for computer users.

A lot of potentially toxic materials will be safely disposed of, and cupboards, sheds and wardrobes around New Zealand will have a lot less computer junk lying around.

"Our aim with eDay is to educate New Zealanders of the dangers of dumping e-waste in landfill while giving them the opportunity to dispose of unwanted computer items in a safe way," Laurence Zwimpfer, organiser and chairperson of the Computer Access New Zealand Trust (Canz), says.

The first eDay was launched in Wellington in 2006 with a pilot version sponsored by Dell. Fifty-four tonnes of computer hardware was collected that year, and in 2007 eDay spread to 12 other centres where 6900 cars dropped off 415 tonnes of e-waste made up of 26,000 computer components.

Mr Zwimpfer says the aim this year is to collect 1000 tonnes of computer and cellphone products and to send them to recyclers instead of to the tip.

He says e-waste, which can include lead and mercury, is the fastest growing type of waste going to landfills, and the more that can be recycled, the better it is for the environment.

The waste will be sorted at each drop- off site before being transported to recycling plants in New Zealand or overseas. This work will be done by accredited recyclers using international practices to ensure the safety of workers and maximise the recovery of materials. Usually, more than 95 per cent of the parts in a computer can be recovered and re-used.

The drive-through drop-off spots are in 32 places throughout New Zealand on Saturday, with the exception of Hamilton's eDay, which is on Sunday, and open from 9am to 3pm.

Wellington's drop-off spot is in the Westpac Stadium car park; Paraparaumu's is at Mazengarb Park; Masterton's is at the Elder's Woolstore; and Palmerston North's is at the Awapuni Sustainable Development and Recycling Centre. (All the sites are listed on the eDay website.)

"eDay is a fantastic opportunity for households to do the right thing for the environment," Environment Minister Trevor Mallard says.

"It's great to see that manufacturers and communities are actively taking responsibility to divert harmful e-waste from landfills. It's better for the environment, and also gives a second life to valuable materials that can be recycled and reused."

eDay is likely to continue for another two or three years until an industry disposal scheme comes into play.

The Waste Minimisation Bill, which had its third reading in Parliament on September 11, will help drive the safe disposal of "e- waste", but Mr Zwimpfer says it is likely to take a few years for the industry-supported recycling schemes to kick in so eDay will fill that role till then.

"eDay is helping to plug the gap and buy New Zealand a little more time without generating new problems in our landfills," Mr Zwimpfer says.

The event is supported nationally by The Ministry for the Environment, 2020 Communications Trust, CANZ, KiwiRail, Pub Charity, Computer Recycling, NZ Lotteries Commission, Dell, Toshiba, Trade Me, The Laptop Company, Datacom, Toll Tranzlink and The Ministry of Education which funds the Computer Access NZ Trust.

eDay 2008 is a drive-through event open to cars only. Businesses and schools are advised to visit the event's website for alternate disposal options.

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