New Zealand Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage

New Zealand currently generates approximately 98,000 tonnes of e-waste each year. Sadly, the vast majority of these items are sent to landfill. However in recent times, there has been strong support for a national product stewardship program for e-waste.

Associate Minister for Environment Eugenie Sage recently announced that The Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) proposed priority products and priority product stewardship scheme industry consultation document had been released and called for submissions from interested parties.

The consultation document proposes two key positions which the MfE was seeking feedback on:

a) Whether regulated product stewardship schemes should be introduced (under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008) for the following priority products:

  1. Tyres
  2. Electrical and electronic products
  3. Agrichemicals and their containers
  4. Refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases
  5. Farm plastics
  6. Packaging

b) Proposed guidelines for designing priority product stewardship schemes – which outlined 17 design features including objectives and outcomes, funding, governance, targets, compliance and enforcement, public awareness and design for environment.

Already operating a pilot e-waste collection and recycling program in New Zealand, ANZRP seized the opportunity to provide the Minister with a detailed proposal on the shape and form a comprehensive e-waste collection and recycling scheme would take.

Our perspective

ANZRP is of the opinion that a national collections and recycling scheme will create impetus for the e-waste recycling industry to invest into, and improve the standards, governance, and management and reporting of e-waste recycling.

Even though there currently is an e-waste collection, recycling and reuse industry in New Zealand, there is no national product stewardship scheme with required performance standards, recycling rate and regulatory compliance. Instead there is a series of voluntary schemes (accredited and unaccredited) managed by many different producers, recyclers and local councils. This results in varied levels of health, safety and environmental (HSE) performance.

Based on our experience operating Australia’s largest e-waste collection network under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, ANZRP proposes a two-part solution for New Zealand.

  1. The first part involves expanding its free e-waste collection and recycling pilot program. In doing so, the program will have the capacity to support a convenient, accessible and national network of collection points for consumers and a pick-up service for B2B customers, and will:
  • have a product scope of ITC products including laptops, desktops, monitors, tablets, computer parts and accessories, cables, modems, printers, faxes, scanners, MFDs, cameras and video cameras,
  • use responsible recycling partners that meet our standards,
  • provide transparency reporting on KPIs, and;
  • incorporate auditing and due diligence activities.

This exercise would allow ANZRP to learn what works in the New Zealand market, understand the industry capacity and capability, and obtain data.

  1. The second part involves the formation of a working group to engage with government and industry to conduct a RIS and design a range of regulated e-waste management models based on international best practice. The working group will cover key stakeholders and be facilitated by an independent consultant.

Expressed in its submission, steps TechCollect NZ will take include the following:

  1. Expand collection sites beyond the current 13 OfficeMax retail stores to test different types of collection sites (e.g. local council waste transfer stations, community waste centres, other retailers, events at schools, B2B collections) ensuring good geographical coverage.
  2. Expand the current recycler network beyond Croxley Recycling (in Auckland) to also include manual dismantlers, recyclers who use mechanical separation, disability employers and community waste centres.
  3. Expand the logistics provider network beyond the scope of the current pilot model.
  4. Increase promotion of the program to raise its profile and increase e-waste volumes collected.
  5. Form a working group to be managed by an independent consultant. Representatives will include ANZRP Members, non-member producers, existing accredited voluntary e-waste product stewardship schemes, MfE, Local Government, Zero Waste Network, WasteMINZ, Product Stewardship Council, Para Kore and Consumer NZ.

Consultation and input from MfE as to the establishment of this working group will be vital.

Working in synchronicity with the New Zealand Government and in close collaboration with industry and community, it is ANZRP’s opinion that our product stewardship proposal aligns well with the Waste Management Fund strategic outcomes and is the best way forward.

Responses closed on the October 4. For the remainder of 2019 to 2021, the MfE will assess recommendations and advise of its intentions.