Australia announces new waste and recycling policy



Peter Garrett's recycling policy will be boon for the reverse logistics industry in Australia... not to mention environmentally revolutionary

Peter Garrett, the Australian Environment Minister has announced their new National Waste Policy, with specific focus on Televisions, Computers, and Tyres.


The policy includes a landmark scheme for recycling computers and televisions, with householders able to drop off used computers and TVs for recycling free of charge, Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced today.

“Under the new product stewardship scheme, 80 per cent of all TVs and computers are expected to be recycled by 2021,” Mr Garrett said.

80% is an admirable target, and I feel it should be achievable with good industry participation.

The Minister said Australia produced 43,777,000 tonnes of waste in 2006-07 – a 31 per cent increase in five years – and with waste levels projected to continue to grow, national leadership in this critical issue was overdue.

“It has been 17 years since these issues were looked at in a national context and we now have a clear path for future action and a huge step up on existing efforts.”

The National Waste Policy sets out a comprehensive agenda for national coordinated action on waste across six key areas:

  • Taking Responsibility
  • Improving the Market
  • Pursuing Sustainability
  • Reducing Hazard and Risk
  • Tailoring Solutions
  • Providing the Evidence

“This is a fundamental shift in our approach to waste complementing broader action on climate change and sustainability. It will lead to less waste and better management of waste as a resource, to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits, while ensuring that we continue to manage waste in a safe and environmentally sound manner,” Mr Garrett said.

The Minister said the new approach had been developed in consultation and with the support of industry as well as key non-government organisations and he acknowledged their involvement and support in negotiating these crucial breakthroughs.

Computers & televisions

Mr Garrett said the first areas of waste targeted for action will be computers and televisions.

“Ministers today agreed to a groundbreaking product stewardship framework through which computers and televisions will be the first products regulated.”

In 2007-08, 16.8 million televisions, computers and computer products reached their end of life, with 84 per cent sent to landfill. Only 10 per cent were recycled.

“If Australia were to continue without any form of product stewardship scheme, projections suggest that approximately 44 million televisions and computers would be discarded in 2028.

“Backed by Commonwealth legislation, a new industry-run national collection and recycling scheme for this growing mountain of electronic waste will be up and running in or before 2011.

“This is a major development in one of our fastest growing areas of waste which sees for the first time computer and television manufacturers taking national responsibility for managing e-waste, and it will be done at minimal cost to consumers,” Mr Garrett said.

“The National Waste policy specifically provides for accreditation of industry led schemes, helping to strengthen the arm of industry leaders who want to drive action that sees manufacturers take responsibility for their products when they reach the end of their life.

It’s critical that any scheme involves industry organisations rather than simply forcing them – as I’ve mentioned in other articles, industry stands to benefit hugely from successful recycling schemes.  Government can simply serve to create a framework and standards.

“Computer and television importers and manufacturers are working with Government to take responsibility for their goods, from cradle to grave.”

The Government will provide support to the industry-led collection and recycling scheme by ensuring industry non-participants comply with the same standards as industry members voluntarily participating.

This will ensure that free-riders are unable to gain a financial advantage over those companies that willingly contribute to recycling their own products.

Under the new product stewardship framework there is provision for mandatory, voluntary and co-regulatory schemes. Industry and community organisations that run voluntary schemes will be able to gain accreditation so that the community knows that what they recycle through these schemes will be reused or recycled in an ethical and environmentally safe way.

Great stuff!

What do you think?  Should New Zealand implement a similar policy… or maybe piggyback off the Australian system?… or will industry seize on the benefits of recycling and avoid the necessity of legislation?

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