E-Waste Product Stewardship – New Zealand
Collaboration is key
TechCollect NZ has the right mix of experience, expertise and industry support to enhance Aotearoa’s e-product management system and recommend fit-for-purpose options for a regulatory product stewardship scheme that reduces negative product lifecycle impacts and improves waste reduction, product re-use, recycling and resource recirculation.
We are big believers in the benefits of product stewardship, especially for products and materials that pose a real threat to our environment and the well-being of those managing these products throughout their life-cycle.
We aim to engage broadly throughout the project to ensure all interested and potentially impacted parties are well represented and can provide valuable input into a system-wide solution that will work best in our backyard.
We want to work in a collaborative way with those who can make the greatest impact and will be guided by principles of a circular economy to get the most out of our e-products, benefiting kiwis and the kiwi-economy.
Frequently asked questions
- TechCollect NZ are a New Zealand not-for-profit organisation.
- We don’t own trucks, collection equipment, or undertake any e-product management or treatment activities ourselves, rather, we work with service providers in the New Zealand market who deliver services in line with our high standards of operation.
- We have appointed an independent consultant to lead the CEN WG and stakeholder engagement activities to provide an impartial voice to steer the co-design approach. TechCollect NZ is one voice at the table.
- Also, as part of our investigations we will be assessing a range of potential Product Responsibility Organisation (PRO) models and we will look to test the pros and cons of each option for the MfE to assess further in the next stage of consultation and analysis post our project.
- The objective of our project is to recommend a product stewardship model to the New Zealand Government to inform a cost benefit analysis and further consultation before drafting any legislation.
- We are also working with MfE to develop a project introduction letter to support project stakeholder engagement activities that align with the current Government’s regulated product stewardship (RPS) policy direction and have established a network of stakeholders with broad representation from Government, producers, consumers, community groups, social enterprises, retailers and New Zealand’s EEE/WEEE management sector.
- Although kiwis are among the highest consumers of e-products globally, these trends are not unique to New Zealand and there are a range of product stewardship schemes and extended producer responsibility programs that we can learn from as undertake our co-design of local scheme options and recommendations.
- Europe has established a regulatory product stewardship or extended producer responsibility requirements through their WEEE Directive which covers all e-products (excluding batteries which have their own Directive) and creates incentives for higher order interventions (over and above EoL recovery and treatment) to encourage more circular product design, material selection and lifecycle management.
- The WEEE Directive was introduced in 2003 and has undergone multiple reviews and updates and provides a good benchmark as a starting point for our investigations.
- TechCollect NZ is a member of a global e-product PRO network (through the WEEE Forum – represented in the CEN WG) and we are holding a series of workshops with international e-product PROs in November this year to understand what has worked well in e-product stewardship approaches in different jurisdictions and their key recommendations for a local system of shared responsibility in Aotearoa.
- We aim to learn what has worked well, what hasn’t, what we should avoid and what scheme design elements are essential to spur more circular stewardship of e-products across their lifecycle, for all stakeholder groups.
- We are also undertaking research to assess international e-product stewardship approaches, informing local scheme design, and will produce a summary report that will be published and made publicly available.
- E-product treatment costs are likely to vary across different product categories and streams – this will depend on a number of factors including, the value of recoverable resources embedded within e-products, the capability of our sector to manage these e-products and components locally, and offshore processing requirements for any products, components or materials that we cannot manage in Aotearoa.
- TechCollect NZ will be engaging broadly across New Zealand’s e-product management sector to understand BAU recycling costs and ongoing recommendations for a regulatory product stewardship scheme in New Zealand.
- We will also likely recommend a regular review of scheme treatment costs to ensure that proposed scheme funding aspects are updated to reflect ongoing changes and fluctuations to local and international trading markets for recovered resources/commodities.
- We want to avoid a “race to the bottom” at all costs and will put forward options to ensure this does not take place in New Zealand and recycling activities are carried out to achieve defined objectives and meet appropriate treatment standards.
E-waste can be described simply as any device that requires a plug or battery to operate, and includes:
- re-chargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, including lead-acid batteries used in vehicles or stationary power systems (excluding large batteries used in electric vehicles and energy storage applications); and
- categories of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) defined in Annex III of European Directive 2012/19/EU.
- In the WEEE Directive EEE is defined as equipment which is dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work properly and equipment for the generation, transfer and measurement of such currents and fields and designed for use with a voltage rating not exceeding 1 000 volts for alternating current and 1 500 volts for direct current
- This definition extends to all EEE components, sub-assemblies and consumables which are part of the product at the time of discarding e.g. printer cartridges
- Please note, the WEEE Directive currently exempts the following EEE arisings from extended producer responsibility requirements:
- arms, munitions and war material intended for specifically military purposes
- equipment designed to be sent into space
- large-scale stationary industrial tools
- medical devices where such devices are expected to be infective prior to end of life, and active implantable medical device
- Please note, the WEEE Directive currently exempts the following EEE arisings from extended producer responsibility requirements:
See the Electrical and Electronic Priority Product Declaration here
See the categories of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) defined in Annex III of European Directive 2012/19/EU here
- We will work with a range of collection partners to see how we can provide e-waste services for all e-waste in different regions across New Zealand
- Other products not covered by our program i.e. non-ICT equipment, will require additional funding and we will be exploring the most cost-effective options across the country to ensure our partners can support their communities with safe and responsible recovery and treatment systems
- When it comes to batteries, we will be investigating suitable product stewardship options for small handheld batteries in New Zealand, while the Battery Industry Group are tasked with developing product stewardship recommendations for large batteries – please use this link to learn more about the Battery Industry Group and their circular product stewardship approach for large batteries
- There are currently four (4) voluntary product stewardship programs for e-products operating in New Zealand and while these programs go a long way to lessen negative product lifecycle impacts and improve waste reduction, product re-use, recycling and resource recirculation, they do not operate on a level playing field or cover all e-product categories with full market participation.
- The Circular E-Stewards Network are engaging directly with these program operators to understand their scheme design preferences under a mandatory approach and how these programs could continue to operate going forward – this includes understanding options for Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) approaches that would meet the proposed objectives and performance measures under a regulatory system.
- Examples of such voluntary product stewardship programs include Fuji Xerox’s Zero Landfill Scheme, the Refrigerant Recovery Scheme, the RE:mobile program and Sharp’s Recycling and Waste Reduction Scheme.
- These scheme operators and the producers supporting these programs should be applauded for their early and proactive work in product stewardship and we want to work closely with them to learn what has worked well for their programs and what could be improved under a mandatory scheme that specifies liable parties and assigns liable party obligations.
- After the working group’s recommendations report has been delivered to New Zealand’s Central Government in June 2021, there will be detailed regulatory and economic impact analysis of the scheme design options put forward and further stakeholder consultation (likely to include mandatory public consultation) to test those options.
- This subsequent analysis and further consultation will be led or commissioned by Government and any proposed regulations will be presented to Cabinet for decision.
- An application for e-product scheme accreditation is expected within one year from when the recommendations report is delivered i.e. between June 2021 and June 2022.
See the General Guidelines for Product Stewardship Schemes for Priority Products Notice 2020 (including expected timing – item 3) here
See the WasteMINZ infographic on the product stewardship scheme co-design process and timing here
In Australia for example, the cost of a mandatory e-waste scheme is estimated to be between $1.55 and $1.85 for an e-waste unit size equivalent product of 0.75 kilograms
- This means that for less than a cup of coffee, we can make sure that e-waste is managed responsibly and, in a way, where valuable materials are recovered and retained for the benefit of local support chains
- The reality is that recycling costs change across different products depending on a number of factors including, the value of embedded resources and the capability of New Zealand’s e-waste management sector to access these for recovery – we will explore these elements in detail throughout our investigations; leading to fit-for-purpose recommendations in the New Zealand context
- The objective of our project is to recommend a product stewardship model to the New Zealand Government to inform a cost benefit analysis and further consultation before drafting any legislation
- TechCollect NZ supports sensible product stewardship interventions that align with New Zealand’s waste management hierarchy i.e. re-use before recycling wherever possible, and those that place a heightened focus around waste avoidance.
- The working group will be exploring what role re-use initiatives can play in a regulatory product stewardship scheme and will be including recommendations to Government around this.
- Product repair and re-use provides a number of benefits within the interest of national supply chains such as retaining valuable resources locally and creating local skill-based jobs. This will also be a key driver in propelling a more circular and lower-carbon economy in New Zealand.
- With more e-products being recovered in Aotearoa to be managed through formal recycling channels with defined treatment standards, we would expect to see a mandatory product stewardship scheme significantly contribute to the creation of local skill-based employment opportunities.
- This extends to e-product collection, transport, repair, refurbishment and recycling activities leading to local jobs for kiwis in our e-product management sector.
- In Australia, the Australian Council of Recyclers has estimated that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled, approximately 9.2 full time jobs are created. For the same amount of waste managed in landfill, only 2.8 full time jobs are created.
- All products recovered for recycling through the TechCollect NZ pilot program undergo first stage recycling activities, including dismantling and shredding, in New Zealand.
- Once first stage recycling activities are performed to recover commodities (e.g. metals, plastic, glass, PCBs), some commodities are processed into new products within New Zealand.
- TechCollect NZ aims to reprocess as much material in New Zealand as possible, however, some components are reprocessed overseas as New Zealand does not have the infrastructure in place to further process or manufacture the recovered materials into new products
- Metals: all processed in New Zealand
- Non-leaded glass: processed in New Zealand
- Printer and computer plastic: sorted into polymer type, granulated and then exported to Malaysia (although HIPS from cartridges and maybe printers may be processed in China)
- PCBs: go to Japan
- Lithium batteries: South Korea (or they may go to Envirostream now).
- CRT and flat screen monitors: go to Abilities group in Auckland. Plastic goes to Malaysia. Leaded glass goes to Nyrstar. Metals, clean glass and mercury tubes are processed in New Zealand. PCBs go to Japan.
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