Saturday, April 28, 2012

Changes to Australian eWaste Regulations

An Exposure Draft of the Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Amendment Regulation 2012 and associated commentary was released on 26 April 2012. Written submissions to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities can be made by 17 May 2012.

Background to the Amendment Regulation

The Regulations came into effect on 8 November 2011. In conjunction with the Product Stewardship Act 2011, they provide the basis for national, industry-run arrangements for the collection and recycling of televisions, computers and computer products.

Under the Regulations, companies that imported or manufactured more than a specified number of covered products in the previous financial year are ‘liable parties’. Under section 18 of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, a liable party is obliged to contribute to industry collection and recycling efforts by becoming a member of an ‘approved co-regulatory arrangement’.

Schedule 1 of the Regulations sets out the products covered by the Regulations. For each product there is a product description and a product code. The product descriptions and product codes are drawn from the Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (commonly known as the Working Tariff) published by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

This use of Working Tariff product codes ensures that data from import declarations can be used to assess the number and type of covered products that are imported. This data is used to calculate annual recycling targets for industry-run co-regulatory arrangements. This is administratively efficient because it avoids two sets of reporting, but it does mean that the Regulations need to be updated from time to time to maintain consistency with the Working Tariff.

In conjunction with the Customs and Border Protection Service, the Australian Bureau of Statistics periodically updates the Working Tariff to keep it statistically relevant in the context of the changing composition of Australia’s imports. Due to changes initiated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics the Working Tariff has been amended, effective from 1 January 2012. The changes involve consolidation and removal of product codes that, due to changes in technology, only represent a small number of imports. For example, the categories for cathode ray tube televisions have been consolidated from 20 to 6.

The Amendment Regulation would update the product codes and descriptions to align with the changes to the Working Tariff, and make consequential changes to the Regulations.

One of the consequential changes is to insert ‘conversion factors’ for the new product codes. Conversion factors represent the average weight of a product within a product code, and are used to calculate recycling targets.

Appendix A summarises how conversion factors would change as a result of the Amendment Regulation.

The conversion factors in the Amendment Regulation were developed based on an assessment of products were imported under relevant product codes. The supporting research for this assessment is contained in the report Import Conversion Factors for the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. This report is available at

The Amendment Regulation will not affect the rollout of collection and recycling services. The 30% recycling target for 2012-13 remains unchanged, as does the requirement for reasonable access to collection services to be provided in accordance with the Regulations by 31 December 2013.

It is anticipated that the product codes will change again for products imported and manufactured from 1 July 2012. The changes to apply from 1 July 2012 would address industry requests for greater discrimination within product categories to more accurately reflect the weight of those products. This will require a further set of amendments in 2012-13.

Fact sheets and other materials providing background on the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme are available at ...

From: Commentary on the Exposure Draft of the Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Amendment Regulation 2012, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 26 April 2012

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