Government and industry commit to e-waste strategy


By John Gertsakis

Diverting end-of-life televisions from landfill remains a key objective for Product Stewardship Australia, a not-for-profit organisation, established by television manufacturers to design and deliver a national collection, recycling and community education program.

The timing is right given the growing appetite Australian consumers have for ensuring e-waste is recycled in an environmentally sound manner. Interim e-waste collection and recycling events in Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane during 2010 clearly demonstrate that the public is ready and willing to take up TV and computer recycling.

Industry recycling activities will be underpinned by Commonwealth legislation and e-waste regulations being drafted by the Australian Government. It is expected that the Bill will be introduced in the Autumn sitting of Parliament, and hopefully finalised by the Winter sitting. In simple terms, TV and computer recycling will be regulated by the end of 2011 subject to the legislation being passed by Parliament. All importers and manufacturers will be regulated at a Federal level. Once legislation and regulations are finalised, industry plans to commence a national TV and computer recycling scheme around August or September 2011.

Most importers would have received preliminary notification from the Federal Environment Department and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. There will be little or no excuse for suppliers not knowing that e-waste arising from TVs and computers is likely to be regulated by the end of 2011.

PSA continues to be, a strong advocate of federal legislation and regulation, which enables industry to fund and deliver a permanent television recycling service to urban, regional and rural areas. The current recovery and recycling rate for end-of-life televisions is very low and PSA expects that legislation, combined with industry initiatives, will deliver an unprecedented level of television recycling in Australia.

With national collection and recycling, PSA’s emphasis will be on end-of-life televisions that would otherwise be destined for landfill or illegal dumping. PSA will design and implement a program in partnership with the IT equipment sector (the Australian Information Industry Association). All stakeholders need to balance the economic value of recovered materials against the cost of collection, disassembly and recycling.

Ongoing consultation with retailers over the coming months will explore how consumers can be supported with point-of-sale information about where to drop off their end-of-life TVs and computers.

This work involves discussions with various stakeholders including retailers, local government, regional waste management groups, state environment agencies, service and repair businesses, charitable recycling organisations and commercial e-waste recyclers. Most importantly, our consultation activities will become more intense as we focus on detailed aspects of a national television and computer recycling program. This will extend to specifics on targets for collection and materials recovery, as well as extremely robust standards for collection facilities, transport and technical processing.

PSA is interested to hear from TV suppliers and manufacturers who are not currently PSA members to ensure they are involved in the design and implementation of the National TV and Computer Product Stewardship Scheme.

John Gertsakis is executive director of Product Stewardship Australia. This article was first published in Tech Trader


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