Is Voluntary Product Stewardship for E-Waste Working in New Zealand? A Whangarei Case Study

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MDPI (Basel, Switzerland)
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New Zealand currently manages its annually generated 99,000 tonnes of e-waste via voluntary product stewardship schemes. Limited data is available to determine the success of this approach. This lack of data is cited as the logic preventing the declaration of e-waste as a priority product by the Minister for the Environment which would trigger the enforcement of mandatory product stewardship. This case study, involving a survey of e-waste creation and management in Whangarei District households, as well as analyses of local services, and local and national policy, found that only 1.8% of the estimated e-waste created in the district is recycled by municipal services. The ‘cost to recycle’ and ‘a lack of knowledge’ present as barriers to engagement in these services, with ‘the lack of ability to repair/the cost to repair’ found to be the most significant driver for e-waste creation. The adoption of mandatory product stewardship for e-waste was recommended, as this measure would ensure robust and transparent data collection, see recycling services become more accessible, and raise awareness of these services, thus reducing the value-action gap. Mandatory e-waste management would also impact product design to ensure affordable repair-ability further supporting a circular economy for electronic goods.
product stewardship, extended producer responsibility, e-waste, WEEE (waste electronic and electrical equipment), e-waste management, Whangarei, New Zealand
SUSTAINABILITY, 2019, 11 (11)