Some house brand TV, PC and notebook manufacturers are set to benefit from the introduction of a new national e-waste collection and disposal scheme, by not having to participate in the new program which is set to add to the cost of most branded products.Under the bill introduced to the Federal Parliament yesterday thousands of so-called “white box” small-scale manufacturers and importers are set to escape its provisions, due to a ceiling on imports which some white box manufacturers say they will avoid by simply changing the name of a brand once their import quota has been reached.
One Asian white box manufacturer of PCs who was contacted by ChannelNews said: “This is good news as we will not be hit with additional costs”.
When asked about the limit on imports he said “we will simply change the name of the product and list it as a new import. This is easy to do with small run production”.
While explanatory notes issued with the Bill claim there will be no “free riders” escaping provisions of the national scheme – a provision demanded by the major computer and accessory vendors – the opposite now appears to be the case, with proposed regulations exempting importers and makers of less than 5000 units annually from the national scheme.
These limits will be set not by the bill itself, but under regulations to be gazetted when and if the bill passes through both houses of Parliament. The Government has called for public submissions on the proposed regulations, which must be received by April 8.
The Product Stewardship Bill was introduced in the Senate yesterday by Senator Don Farrell, Parliamentary Secretary For Sustainability. It aims to set up arrangements under which 80 percent of TV and computer waste is to be recycled by 2020, compared with less than 10 percent at present.
The bill sets the framework for regulations forcing major manufacturers and suppliers of IT equipment and TVs – though not mobile phones – to join a national recycling scheme that aims to prevent most obsolete units ending in landfill. Collection services are to be progressively rolled out Australia-wide over five years.
But the bill doesn’t specify how the scheme is to be funded – something still to be thrashed out by the industries involved – or exactly how the e-waste will be collected and disposed of.
It does stress that industry will be required to cover the cost of implementing the scheme, including collection, infrastructure, recycling, awareness and education programs and governance activities.
According to a consultation paper issued by Farrell’s office, a threshold will be set to exclude outfits that import or manufacture less than 5000 television or computer units annually. The aim is to lessen the burden on small business.
The paper claims the proposed 5000-unit threshold would see 95.5 per cent of importers excluded from the scheme, but would still maintain coverage of 95 per cent of total units sold in Australia each year.
The Australian Information Industry Association yesterday hailed the bill as a “significant step towards supporting industry efforts to deliver a national scheme”, which AIIA said requires industry-wide participation and funding.
Product Stewardship Australia (PSA), a peak body representing TV manufacturers, also welcomed the bill.
The PSA and AIIA are planning to set up a new industry body known as the Product Stewardship Organisation (PSO) to deliver the national recycling scheme under specific requirements of the legislation.
The discussion paper is at www.environment.gov.au.