Garrett approves national e-waste recycling program

Recycling scheme to start in November

Environment Minister Peter Garrett

Environment Minister Peter Garrett

Environment minister Peter Garrett has given the nod to national e-waste recycling at a conference of state and federal environment ministers in Tasmania late last week.

Industry groups earlier this month signed a charter presented at the Environmental Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) meeting to push a national e-waste recycling scheme.

The charter, dubbed the Product Stewardship Compact for Computers and Computer Peripherals, gained unanimous support from computer and television manufacturers including Dell, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Panasonic which signed the agreement. A proposal under the scheme could legislate a tax at the point-of-sale or import for computer and television equipment, which would facilitate free curbside recycling of all e-waste.

Australian Information and Industry Association (AIIA) CEO Ian Birks said Garret and NSW Deputy Premier Carmel Tebutt agreed to the scheme on a “high level” and expects a plan to hit the ground in November.

“Minister Garret and attending ministers agreed on the importance of and have committed to the creation of a national e-waste scheme,”

“Its a high level commitment so I guess there is a bit of wiggle room in it... The expectation is that the scheme will be signed and agreed to in the next EPHC meeting in November.”

The government will release the proposal's consultation impact statement and a Choice modelling survey of 2000 consumers in July.

Despite Garret refusing to discuss a government-regulated e-tax levy six months ago, Birks is confident the scheme will go ahead, adding the government will find it “hard to back-flip” since studies have shown the proposal to be successful.

"Finally we have a recognition that a national scheme has to be in place — it's good for suppliers and consumers," he said.

The industry-funded initiative would mimic schemes that have been in place in Japan, the United States and the European Union for more than a decade.

According to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, 1.6 million PCs were being placed in landfill every year, and a further 5.3 million were kept garages, and some 1.8 million were in storage.

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