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'People are doing the wrong thing' — Most Kiwis improperly disposing of old electronics

They may be malfunctioning or completely kaput, but don't throw your electronics in the bin.

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With plenty of New Zealanders enjoying new TVs, phones and vacuum cleaners post-Christmas, it’s a good time for a refresher on what to do with e-waste. Source: 1 NEWS

That's the message to anyone doing away with the old and enjoying a new TV, phone or vacuum cleaner post-Christmas.

You may consider your e-waste useless, but it's still full and value and doesn't belong in landfill.

The Ministry for the Environment says New Zealand generates up to 100,000 tonnes of electronic waste each year, but only about two per cent gets recycled.

"So you can imagine, people are doing the wrong thing," said Auckland Council waste expert Parul Sood.

There's been a rise in fires in Auckland's transfer stations and in rubbish trucks, caused by people putting items like battery packs in their kerbside bins.

And it doesn't just pose fire hazards. E-waste is also full of toxins, which experts says we need to keep out of landfill.

Abilities Group in Auckland pulls a part around 30 tonnes of electronics for recycling each week.

It's one of a number of organisations which accept items from the public.

Manager Michael van der Merwe said he takes "anything with a battery and a plug".

"We strip the e-waste down into different commodities," he said.

"At the end of the day, metal goes to the smelter, circuit boards to Japan, plastic to Asia."

Circuit boards, which are in everything electronic, have up to 28 precious metals in them, including gold, silver, palladium and copper.

Extracting those is called urban mining and research has shown it can be more profitable than traditional mining.

In New Zealand, it's even creating jobs for those with impairments.

Abilities Group's workforce in its e-waste department is 50 per cent disabled.

Shaun Lewis from the Ministry for the Environment told 1 NEWS electronic recycling is voluntary in NZ right now.

"So it's not as available as what it could be," he admitted.

He says that's why the ministry's working on a product stewardship scheme for electronics.

That "puts the responsibility on sellers and importers and producers to come up with a scheme to ensure their products' recovered at the end of its life", he said.

The plan should be in action for some items by June, he said.

For now, if your Christmas gifts or boxing days scores lead to a cleanout, the advice from Sood is: "It's just spending a little bit extra time, thinking about, 'Where do I take this product that I've got to dispose it carefully?'"

Lewis added: "I'd say contact your local council and find out what waste recovery schemes they have locally.

"You can also access techcollect through their website, which arranges collections around the country."