One of the by-products of modern life is that we depend on all sorts of electronic gadgets and appliances.
But when these appliances cease to operate effectively or get supplanted by the latest in technology, why do we do? Sometimes we keep them as mementos or as spares in case the latest technology fails us.
But for most of us, old electronic goods and appliances are redundant. They take up space and we would like to be rid of what we no longer need.
But how do we do that? In the old days an old washing machine or TV would be carted off to the rubbish tip. But in these environmentally conscious times that’s no longer an option.
The big problem is that most appliances contain quantities of highly toxic chemicals. A computer, for example, contains quantities of cadmium, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead. All these heavy metals can find their way into the food chain and can affect life for hundreds of years.
In the past, residents' groups and councils have run regular inorganic rubbish collections, providing residents with a chance to get rid of unwanted household goods.
But most councils no longer undertake such collections. Hutt City Council did run a collection but discontinued it and has no plans to resume. “It’s not on the agenda,” says environmental sustainability advisor Sandy Beath-Croft. “It’s no longer economic.”
However, residents in Normandale can have their unwanted inorganic goods collected once a year. Normandale Residents Association chairman Peter Matcham says his association arranges for a truck to do an annual house-by-house collection. “We take anything that can be recycled. We take fridges and washing machines. But we don’t do hazardous waste.”
Despite collecting up to 3.5 tonnes of metal, Mr Matcham says the association loses money on the collection. “It’s a community service.”
So if your television, computer, microwave or fridge has done its dash, what should you do?
Earthlink, an organisation that provides work opportunities for people with disabilities, offers a free recycling service for electronic waste. It accepts computers, printers, scanners, washing machines, dryers, dishwaters and televisions. Appliances are either returned to working order for resale or are dismantled for recycling.
If you have items for recycling leave them at the recycling bins at the Silverstream landfill or take them to Earthlink’s shop at Wingate. For further information go to www.earthlink.org.nz
In Seaview, recycling company RCN operates a facility to recycle old electronic waste. It is part of a national e-waste recycling network. The facility at 5-7 Meachen St accepts computers (including printers and scanners), televisions, mobile phones, DVD players, washing machines, dryers, and electrical cables. Please note that disposal charges apply for all items apart from mobile phones. For more information go to www.e-cycle.co.nz