Eight years ago, after moving to New Zealand, we purchased a new, small cathode ray tube TV, one of those boxy ones.
Flat screens were around but far too expensive and our TV viewing didn’t warrant a big investment. After a few years of terrible and variable reception in different houses we invested in a Freeview box. Suddenly the picture was fabulous and we could get more channels, enough for us.
With the impending switch off of the analogue TV signal looming (April 28 in the South Island), we were sitting pretty, already sorted. Then recently we woke up to a few sessions of the TV fizzing inside and it was no more, completely dead. Time to buy a new one, or should we just buy a second-hand old one?
We already had the box to convert it. But what about the video? We would need another set-top box for that. So we bought a simple, stupid (that is, not smart) flatscreen TV and an aerial. The Freeview box is still in use, connected to the satellite dish and feeding the video player. Sorted!
So, what to do with the old TV? The retailers were consistently unhelpful – generally suggesting they could “sort of recycle . . .” our old one. This translated to the fact they could take it off us (some would charge) but then chuck it into their skip – so that’s not recycling then. I did inform them that there was an option they could promote to their customers locally but they weren’t enthusiastic.
A few months later things have changed. TVs can now be recycled in Nelson and Tasman for no more than $5 thanks to the Government’s TV TakeBack programme. Recycler RCN e-Cycle is working with Harvey Norman and Noel Leeming. Smiths City and Powerstore will also accept TVs for recycling.
These stores are open to take TVs now; Harvey Norman takes them for free and the rest charge $5. There is no requirement to purchase anything from the stores.
On April 22, Nelmac (8 Vickerman St, Nelson) and the three Tasman Resource Recovery Centres in Richmond (Beach Rd), Mariri and Takaka will also start accepting TVs for $5, with the support of Nelson City and Tasman District councils. But don’t forget that if you have a perfectly good television, it will work with a set-top box. You don’t need a new TV.
The subsidy is provided by the Ministry for the Environment through the Waste Minimisation Fund. They are also supporting investment in infrastructure to ensure that we have the facilities in this country to recycle electronic waste beyond the lifetime of this scheme. This fund comes from the levy that is paid when we put stuff into landfill.
Internationally, retailers and manufacturers are starting to take responsibility for TVs and other e-waste at end-of-life. I applaud the retailers involved in this TV TakeBack scheme for starting to take responsibility and I am calling on the Government to ensure that they all do the same, long term, for all e-waste.
TVs contain hazardous materials – they are hazardous waste. We shouldn’t be throwing them into our landfills or anywhere else. They also contain materials that are too important environmentally to be used once and then discarded. The best option is always to reuse them, not create the waste problem in the first place.
If they can’t be reused as whole items then let’s reuse the materials, stop the toxic stuff from polluting our environment and ensure that our TVs are handled responsibly at the end of their life. Karen Driver is the waste manager for the Nelson Environment Centre.