Monday, May 25, 2009

Australian e-waste scheme by end of 2009

Australian Governments have agreed to have an electronic waste (e-waste) scheme by the end of 2009. Media reports suggest a $30 levy on new computers and TVs to cover the cost. This does not seem excessive, but there would be some interesting issues to consider (for example, should the levy be the same for a small $350 nettop, as for a desktop PC which uses five times as much material and costs five times as much ). Unfortunately the scheme will not be in place to cover the cost of disposal of the old CRT TVs displaced by new flat screens purchased with the government's $900 stimulus payments.
Work will begin immediately on the development options for a national scheme to deal with increasing amounts of computer and television waste.

“I have today obtained the agreement of my state and territory colleagues to look at the cost implications and the regulatory impact of taking national action on this matter,” said Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett.

“Given increasing community and industry concern about electronic waste, and cognisant of the length of time it has taken previous governments to make progress on this front, I am pleased that my colleagues agreed to take this major step forward by looking at the
regulatory impacts of a recycling system.

“I expect to be able to make the results of this study available for public comment by July, before a final decision is made by the Council at its next meeting in November “The decision to explore regulatory options is supported by the results of a choice
modelling study for recycling of televisions and other electronic items that showed consumers are prepared to pay to have these goods disposed of in an environmentally sustainable manner
“Choice modelling has only rarely, and only very recently, been applied to gauge people’s receptiveness to environmental policies. It has never before been used in the context of waste or recycling.

“This study is assurance that, whatever approach is ultimately agreed upon as the best option from an environmental management point of view, Australians are prepared to support a scheme to deal with e-waste.”

Ministers also agreed on the development of a ‘fluoro-cycle’ scheme for the recycling of mercury-containing lamps, the finalisation of product stewardship arrangements for used tyres, renewed their support for the development of a national waste policy by the end of
2009 and welcomed a decision by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to close a significant gap in environmental protection by giving the EPHC a single decision making role on the environmental management of chemicals.

The full EPHC Communique can be found at:

From: BREAKTHROUGH ON COMPUTER, TV WASTE, MEDIA RELEASE, The Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, PG/276 22 May 2009

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