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CE Vendors Agree Terms Over E Waste

By Computer Daily News | Thursday | 05/11/2009

Federal and State environment ministers have agreed to create a national legislative framework to address e-waste in Australia. The landmark decision, which comes after years of pushing by consumer groups and the industry, was made at a meeting of Environmental Protection Heritage Council (EPHC) comprising the State and Federal environment ministers in Perth yesterday.

It will see implementation of a consistent national policy regulating the disposal of electronic products such as computers, printers monitors and televisions. Costs will be borne by the industry: consumers will not have to pay as long as they drop off unwanted gear at designated collection points.

Manufacturers and importers of electronic equipment will be required to join a government-accredited Producer Responsibility Organisation. Smaller white-box makers who do not join a PRO will have to be accredited with a similar plan under planned federal legislation.

Australian Information Industry Association CEO Ian Birks ­ in Perth for the historic meeting ­ welcomed the decision and says the AIIA will begin work immediately to help establish a PRO. "Today's decision represents a win for industry, consumers and the environment. The AIIA and our members fully support this landmark decision and congratulate the Federal and State environment ministers on today's announcement," Birks said.

The scheme has a strong compliance component. The Federal Government will legislate to put the framework in place and the ICT industry will regulate the scheme ­ and companies that fail to take part will face tough penalties.

The AIIA said it hopes the scheme will see collection for recycling of 75 to 80 percent of all IT equipment from organisations and households by 2020.

The association would like to see an industry-based financing model with a defined scope, timeline and target for setting up a viable take-back program. Companies participating in the PRO would pay a share of the collection, recycling and administration costs and there would be no upfront fee under the AIIA model. 

How it will work: See over page

There's a brand new three-letter acronym in the IT industry: PRO, standing for Producer Responsibility Organisation. Mutiple PROs are likely to be set up to deal with e-waste under the framework announced by the EHPC yesterday, AIIA Ian Birks told CDN yesterday.

Speaking after the announcement by Federal Minister Peter Garrett, and obviously delighted, Birks said it was likely there would be a TV industry PRO, an AIIA PRO and potentially a number of individual PROs set up by some PC suppliers who preferred to establish their own schemes.

Kerbside collection? Maybe

Birks stressed costs would be borne by the industry, not individual consumers. "Experience suggest we can get costs pre unit down to around $2 or even lower," he said.

"It will be up to suppliers whether they pass the cost on, but I think it likely most will just absorb it. Consumers will simply drop off equipment at designated collection centres."

Birks said the industry would also examine the possibility of kerbside collections "down the track". That type of scheme would need to be funded ­ "you won't do that for two bucks," he agreed.

Birks said AIIA and the industry were already planning a large awareness campaign on the issue.

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