Council to trial user-pays e-waste scheme

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Queenstown’s council wants to trial an experimental user-pays e-waste scheme for six months from September. 

Council solid waste boss Stefan Borowy says the public will be encouraged to safely dispose of computers, faxes, copiers, servers, printers and batteries. 

Residents will have to pay for doing their good deeds, however – prices range from $4 to ditch a router up to $69 to dispose of a large photocopier. 

In a report for tomorrow’s (Tuesday) infrastructure services committee meeting, Borowy says electronic waste or e-waste – obsolete or broken electronic devices – is “one of the fastest growing categories of hazardous waste in the world”. 

“In many European countries, regulations have been introduced to prevent e-waste being dumped in landfills due to its hazardous content,” he says. 

E-waste dumped in landfills can leach into the land and contaminate water courses or the atmosphere, impacting on nearby communities and the environment. Incineration releases heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury into the air, Borowy reports. 

“At present, most e-waste generated [locally] is disposed of to landfill or collected annually as part of the national e-day,” he says. 

The trial will be conducted at transfer stations – at no cost to the council – by New Zealand-owned company RCN, which specialises in e-waste disposal and is part-funded by the Ministry for the Environment. 

If the trial’s successful, the e-waste service would become a permanent addition, Borowy says. 

The public will still have a choice, he reassures councillors – they can still dump their electronic cast-offs into the landfill if they prefer.