Electronics recycling face 'off' switch

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2012

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Landfills could be left to take much of Hamilton's electronics waste when the RCN e-Cycle site in Frankton closes its doors this month.

The take-up of the service has not been enough for the user-pays operation to become self-sustaining, and $24,000 in funding from the Environment Ministry via the Hamilton City Council was for one year only.

The site will close after collection on November 17.

The fledgling Jolly St facility was announced with an upbeat statement from the council late last year outlining the benefits of recycling electronic goods such as televisions, phones and computers.

The statement said the venture would be permanent.

Electronic waste is one of the fastest-growing and most toxic types of waste, containing potentially harmful chemicals.

An estimated 80,000 tonnes go into landfills each year.

Raglan-based Xtreme Waste had the contract to run the facility, and site manager Simon Thomson said it processed about a third of the desired volume, 25 tonnes, since January 20.

The relationship between partners - RCN Group and the council - was good, he said.

"It's well used by some people but for the majority, if they can save a few dollars disposing of their electronics to landfill, they'll take that option."

The doors were closing but its permanent closure was not a foregone conclusion, council city waters manager Tim Harty said.

"We are continuing to discuss future options with Xtreme Waste and its partners in this initiative as we want to keep this operation running. Part of this process is exploring possible council-owned sites to relocate the operation. Our relationship with these organisations is positive and operational cost-savings are one of the main points of our discussions so that the cost of disposal to the public can be as low as possible."

One of the problems could be other cost-free disposal options, Mr Harty said.

Waikato Environment Centre manager Katherine Hay said there was room for private companies who produced and retailed electronics to keep it ticking along.

"If it closes we'd have a whole lot of stuff going to landfill that should be being re-used or recycled because the minerals are non-renewable - once we've used them up, that's it."

Electronic waste can still be dropped off at the e-cycle facility until it closes.

Opening hours are 9am-4.30pm Friday and 10am-2pm on Saturday.

matt.bowen@waikatotimes.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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