A step ahead for e-waste recycling

Companies selling technology products in Australia will be required to fund a national collection and recycling scheme under legislation introduced to the Senate yesterday.

Companies selling technology products in Australia will be required to fund a national collection and recycling scheme under legislation introduced to the Senate yesterday.

Waste not, want yes! (Credit: Mobile Muster/AMTA)

Dubbed The Product Stewardship Bill, the legislation aims to reduce and manage product waste and e-waste in a consistent manner nationwide. The first products covered under the proposed legislation will be televisions and computers.

"The proposed scheme will require importers and manufacturers of TVs, computers and computer peripherals to fund and implement national collection and recycling of these products," said the Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, in a media release yesterday.

According to an explanatory memorandum accompanying the Bill, cost of the scheme will depend on the scope of regulations made by the government under the Bill.

Collection services will be rolled out Australia-wide over five years by the television and computer industry.

"Recyclable materials that can be recovered from TVs and computers include glass and plastics, iron, steel, aluminium and copper, and precious metals such as gold, platinum and silver," Farrell said.

The scheme aims to increase the recycling rate for TVs and computers to 80 per cent by 2020/21.

The Bill is an attempt to simplify the current, disparate stewardship schemes across Australia under one national framework. It will put Australia in line with similar programs run in other parts of the world including North America, Europe and Asia.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Joe Ludwig said that the type of products Australian's were consuming was changing, with a rise in televisions and computers going to the dump.

"Around 32 million new television and computer products were sold in Australia in 2008, with an estimated 16.8 million units reaching end of life in the same year. Only 10 per cent are recycled, well below the average rate of recycling for all waste of 52 per cent," said Ludwig in a speech introducing the Bill to the Senate.

The Bill will be considered further in parliament later this year. WA already gave its e-waste program an extra $1.5 million because it thought the federal scheme would take too long to get up and running.