Recycle your tech stuff

23:06, Apr 16 2012
Cameron Hodgkinson, a technician at Molten Media, a non-profit company that recycles electronic equipment.

Christmas is over. New computers, television sets and DVD players are up

and running. Michele Taylor suggests eco-friendly homes for the old ones. I n 1972, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards hoisted a television set over a hotel's 10th-floor balcony and let go. Glass, metal, mercury and lead shattered across a rooftop below, and a rock-star craze began.

In today's less heady, more environmentally aware times, dumping unwanted electronics is a pedestrian affair.

Bits and pieces: old computers that cannot be reused can be stripped down to their components which are then sold.

One recent morning, Molten Media Community Trust's operations manager, Gerry MacPhail, was sitting in the company's doorway when he shouted: "Incoming". There was no drug-crazed lunatic about to drop a TV set from the rooftop, but a short, bald man in beige loafers had pulled up and popped his boot. Molten Media volunteers unloaded a seven-year-old computer. "It's too old to be reused," MacPhail said. "We'll recycle that."

Molten Media takes about 100 tonnes of electronic equipment annually. Its mission is to reuse and recycle as much as possible to keep toxic components -- such as antimony, cadmium, bromine and beryllium -- out of landfills. The company sells TVs as security monitors.

MacPhail and Molten Media volunteers repair newer-model computers. Any electronics they can't fix and resell -- such as toaster ovens, cordless phones, MP3 players, digital cameras, stereo equipment, DVD players or vacuum cleaners -- are stripped down. Component parts are sold to metal, plastic and glass recyclers. Less than 10 per cent ends up in landfill.


Molten Media recycles its profits back into the community. It sells refurbished, updated, internet-ready computers which, MacPhail says, "will take kids from primary through secondary school for just $300".

For those who cannot afford $300, he offers a sweat equity plan. "We also give computers away to toy libraries, youth centres, women's refuges and bedridden patients," MacPhail says.

"We have far more requests (for free computers) than we can fill. The more money we make on donated items, the more computers we can give away."

Molten Media is self-supporting and receives no government funding. MacPhail asks computer donors to include original power cords, software and manuals. If a company wants to give a large number of items, he likes a heads-up phone call.

MacPhail also requests that drop-offs be made during business hours. "If we're not here, don't leave it," he says. Mischievous kids cruise the streets at night, and "anything left on the pavement gets thrown through windows".


Where to recycle


A total of 270,000 tonnes of rubbish, a mass greater than the world's largest cruise liner, ends up at the Kate Valley landfill every year. Disposal fees are $125 a tonne. The journey from Christchurch is 130km a round trip.

Molten Media

205a Wordsworth Street, Sydenham

Phone: 377-1154


Recycles: everything except whiteware and broken television sets.

Ezy PC

37 Lancewood Drive, Westlake

Phone: 322-9358 and 027 291-5315


Recycles: everything except whiteware and broken television sets.

Christchurch Freecycle

This website offers free materials exchange, set up as a Yahoo Group. Anyone can join. It simply requires a Yahoo account name, which is fast and free to set up.



Metro Place in Bromley (off Dyers Pass Road), Styx Mill Road in Redwood (off Main North Road), Parkhouse Road in Wigram (off Curletts Road)

Phone: 941-7513


Recycles: most computer gear (hard drives, keyboards, mice, etc) in saleable condition. Does not accept pre-2002 computer monitors.

Donate NZ

This online donation exchange matches donors and donees.


Mobile phones:

Telecom retail shops in Christchurch recycle landline and mobile phones.

Vodaphone retail shops in Christchurch recycle mobile phones.

More info:

Christchurch City Council's website at www2.

The Press