What is e-waste?
e-waste is obsolete electronic equipment.
A large proportion of e-waste is computer equipment and TV sets.
Why is e-waste a problem?
The component materials used in the manufacture of computers and TVs are hazardous, and contain an array of substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. When end-of-life computers, printers, and TVs are dumped into landfills, these toxic substances leach out and contaminate the surrounding land and waterways.
It is only a matter of time before this contamination causes major health problems for the general population. Examples of health effects are damage to the nervous system, lung cancer, hair loss, miscarriages, kidney failure, and brain damage.
What is the extent of the problem in New Zealand?
Because of the huge escalation of computer and TV ownership in the past few years, it is difficult to get an exact answer as to the number of discarded items. However, reliable estimates are that there are around two million old computers and 800,000 old monitors lying around various parts of New Zealand.
There is no eco-friendly plant in New Zealand that processes all components for recycling. The only prohibition is the export of e-waste to other countries without a permit issued by The Ministry of Economic Development. This permit is known as
the Basel Permit.