Australia’s Environment Ministers have agreed to create a national legislative framework to address e-waste. The decision was announced in an Environmental Protection Heritage Council (EPHC) meeting in Perth yesterday.
The legislation will cover the disposal of electronic products including computers, printers monitors and televisions and comes after years of pressure from consumer and Green groups. In 2007-2008 only one in 10 televisions and computers in Australia was recycled and e-waste is estimated to be increasing by 17% a year. The national scheme is expected to see 70-80% of all televisions and computers recycled by 2020.
Under the scheme, which will be implemented next year, manufacturers and importers of electronic equipment will be obliged to join a government-accredited Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO). Multiple PROs are likely to be set up, potentially a TV industry PRO, an AIIA (Australian Information Industry Association) PRO and also individual PROs set up by suppliers who preferred to use their own schemes. The AIIA has already outlined its plans for a PRO, covering the financing model, scope, timeline and target for a viable take-back program.
Under the scheme consumers will drop off electronic waste at collection centres with manufacturers bearing the cost. Most suppliers are expected to absorb the cost, rather than pass it on.
Final details have been thrashed out since May, but the scheme closely follows the Byteback initiative, which has been running in Victoria as a pilot. Byteback will apparently continue to run over the next year in Victoria whilst legislation is formalised and then will then become the national scheme.