Australian TV and computer industries have welcomed the introduction of a new Bill, that if passed into law, will force companies to fund a national recycling service for electronic waste.
In the UK and Europe, appliance retailers are legally required to reclaim electronic goods from customers at the end of their life, but such legislation has not made its way to Australian shores as yet.
Less than 20% of businesses offer this option to customers in Australia, and many consumers simply don’t know what to do with them when it comes to replacing consumer electronic goods.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show e-Waste is growing faster than any other waste stream.
A report by Hyder Consulting and PriceWaterhouse Coopers found that 32 million new televisions and computer products were sold in 2008, and16.8 million televisions, computers and other computer products reached the end of their lifecycle by the end of that year, with 88 percent ending up in landfill sites.
The Product Stewardship Bill, introduced to Federal Parliament yesterday will enforce manufacturers, suppliers and importers of information technology equipment and TVs to deliver a permanent e-waste recycling service to the community.
TV and Computer companies have been lobbying the government on the plans for several years, with the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the nation’s peak body on ICT matters, saying the scheme will require nationwide participation and funding.
To date, both the Product Stewardship Association (PSA) and AIIA have played a critical role in working collaboratively with Government on the logistics and operational aspects of e-waste recycling in Australia.
Ian Birks, CEO of the AIIA, said: “The AIIA and its Environmental Special Interest Group are very pleased to see the Federal Government act on such an important environmental issue. Our members have been especially pro-active in developing computer recycling solutions through the ByteBack program currently in operation in Victoria” said Ian Birks, CEO of the AIIA.
John Gertsakis, the Executive Director of PSA, also welcomed the Bill’s introduction. “PSA has been a strong supporter of legislation which balances Government intervention, measurable environmental outcomes and social demand. The importance of Government policies and regulations which meet community expectations but are also flexible and enable industry to operate efficiently, is paramount” said Gertsakis.
Both PSA and AIIA agree that much detail is yet to be finalised by Government, however ongoing and transparent discussions between industry and Government are considered essential if industry is to fund a national e-waste recycling scheme.
It is expected that collection services will be rolled out over a five year period.