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Stop New Zealand’s, Europe and UK e-waste exports

What do you want them to do?

With an ultimate goal of shifting New Zealand and in anothers countries to a circular economy, the Government must put rules in place to stop e-waste exports, as well as improving domestic waste processing with e-waste recycling programs that reuse as much as possible and dispose of what’s left in a safe and responsible manner.

Why is this important?

E-waste or “electronic scrap” has become the fastest growing waste stream in the industrialised world. E-waste refers to electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, printers, televisions, toys, washing machines and other household electronic devices.

Most of these electronics will be thrown away within three years due to new technologies and planned obsolescence (a policy of designing a product with an artificially limited useful life). The average life of a computer has decreased significantly from six to two years, and the average life cycle of today’s cell phones is only 9 to 18 months. As a result, up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are produced annually, most of it from the world’s wealthiest nations where strict recycling laws make safe disposal expensive and tedious.

As a result, much of this waste is exported to countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Africa, which are not subject to strict regulations. This export is illegal under the Basel Convention, according to which “hazardous waste must be disposed of in the country of origin”.

What it does to the environment:

Chemicals in e-waste can be mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, and chromium. These compounds can be very persistent in the environment and are absorbed by plants through the soil and by humans through food, water, air, dust, skin contact and ingestion.

What it can do to people:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), low levels of lead, mercury and cadmium can cause neurological damage, cancer, lung, kidney, thyroid and liver diseases and cause behavioral and learning difficulties in children.

What can be done:

Governments around the world must stop exporting their e-waste to these countries and instead try to improve their own waste methods. Governments should be responsible for managing their own e-waste recycling programs so that businesses can explore this path in a cheaper and more sustainable way.

E-waste the dark horse of environmental problems

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