Garrett announces landmark e-waste recycling scheme



Under the new national e-waste recycling scheme, 80 per cent of all televisions and computes are expected to be recycled by 2021.



By Angela Dorizas

Computers and televisions will be diverted from landfill under a landmark national e-waste recycling scheme.

Federal and state environment ministers agreed to a new national policy on waste and resource management at the biannual meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council in Perth last Thursday.

The National Waste Policy includes a landmark scheme for recycling electronic waste, such as computers and televisions.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said from 2011, consumers will be able to drop off used consumer electronics for recycling free of charge.

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

The Minister said in 2007-08, only 10 per cent of the 16.8 million televisions, computers and computer products that reached their end of life 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,” Mr Garrett said.

Mr Garrett said it was the first time computer and television manufacturers had taken national responsibility for diverting e-waste from landfill.

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

The industry-led collection and recycling scheme will receive Federal Government support to guarantee that industry non-participants comply with the same standards as industry members voluntarily participating.

Mr Garrett said this will ensure free-riders are unable to gain financial advantage over companies that voluntarily recycle their own products.

The new product stewardship framework includes a provision for mandatory, voluntary and co-regulatory schemes. Industry and community-run schemes will also be eligible for accreditation.

Product Stewardship Australia (PSA) welcomed EPHC regulation on e-waste.

The not-for-profit, industry-led organisation was established by consumer electronic suppliers to design and run a television recycling scheme. PSA has been a long-time campaigner for a national e-waste solution.

PSA executive officer John Gertsakis commended the Federal Environment Minister for his leadership on e-waste.

“Minister Garrett has set a most significant policy precedent on Extended Producer Responsibility which government policy-makers and the consumer electronics industry should be very proud of,” Mr Gertsakis said.

National waste policy

The National Waste Policy will set the agenda for waste and resource recovery in Australia over the next decade.

Mr Garrett said Australia produced more than 43 million tonnes of waste in 2006-07, which was a 31 per cent increase in five years.

“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,” Mr Garrett said.

“This is a fundamental shift in out 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.”

The EPHC also agreed to the development of an industry-led scheme for the recycling of used tyres.

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