The life of e-waste

If the world’s e-waste pro­duced each year was put into con­tain­ers on a train, it would stretch around the planet.

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Many elec­tron­ics com­pa­nies are fo­cus­ing on phas­ing out haz­ardous sub­stances from their prod­ucts, pro­vid­ing post-con­sumer e-waste col­lec­tion for re­cy­cling and ad­dress­ing the en­ergy em­bed­ded in the gad­gets’ manufacturing and sup­ply chains. Many coun­tries have also im­posed ‘prod­uct ste­ward­ship’ reg­u­la­tions re­quir­ing those in­volved in the life cy­cle of spe­cific prod­ucts, in­clud­ing e-waste, to man­age and min­imise the risks through­out that cy­cle. Here, the Govern­ment is keen to see more in­dus­tries step up and vol­un­tar­ily de­velop their own prod­uct ste­ward­ship so­lu­tions, en­cour­aged and in some cases re­quired by the Waste Min­imi­sa­tion Act. • Think twice be­fore buy­ing , do you re­ally need it, or

do you just want it? • Re­pair and up­grade where pos­si­ble • Re-use the item be­fore re­cy­cling it – many mo­bile phone com­pa­nies of­fer a buy-back ser­vice for the grow­ing re-use mar­ket over­seas. Freecy­cle? DonateNZ? Sell on TradeMe? • Look for durable prod­ucts that can be up­graded by

re­plac­ing com­po­nents in­stead of the en­tire unit • Ste­ward­ship – many elec­tron­ics brands op­er­ate free

take-back and re­cy­cling ser­vices for their equip­ment • Choose prod­ucts that use less en­ergy – look for the

En­ergy Star rat­ing sys­tem • Choose prod­ucts that have a low im­pact – look for

the En­vi­ron­men­tal Choice la­bel or a sim­i­lar • Re­cy­cle – check with your lo­cal coun­cil as dis­posal and re­cy­cling op­tions can vary. Use a rep­utable re­cy­cler – ask about pro­cesses – do they have per­mits to ex­port to smelters over­seas?

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