Electronic waste (E-waste) is a sleeping beast. It has yet to be regulated, addressed or supported within the New Zealand waste industry, and there is absolutely no legislation supported nor endorsed by the government to address the fastest growing municipal waste stream in the world.
E-waste comes in many shapes and sizes, from computers, laptops, and phones, to household appliances – basically, anything with a cable or a circuit can be considered E-waste. In the technological age that we live in and the speed in which we replace and dispose of these sorts of items, it’s no surprise that E-waste is one of the fastest-growing waste industries in New Zealand. Around 98,000 tonnes of E-waste is estimated to be disposed of every year within New Zealand and is growing up to three times faster than any other waste stream in the country.
According to a recent case study in the Whangarei district, as much as 98% of E-waste ends up in landfill, the repercussions from this sort of mismanagement of waste can be deadly for our green environment, as electronic waste harbours many toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead.
These types of heavy metals can cause permanent damage to our soil and water supply, making it unsuitable for growing crops and drinking. There is no positive in the continued dumping of E-waste and will only continue to perpetuate a massive environmental problem that future generations will have to tackle.