Green group calls for 21st century approach to electrical waste

Tuesday, 04 November, 2008

Environment Victoria has called on all state and federal environment ministers to stop avoiding the issue of electrical waste and urged them to discuss a new recycling scheme for televisions and fluorescent lights at the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) meeting.

Fraser Brindley, Environment Victoria campaigner, said Australia was a worldwide laggard on the issue of electrical waste, or e-waste as it is commonly referred to.

“The state and federal governments have acknowledged that e-waste is a problem, but they have failed to act on it. The issue should be put on the agenda of next week’s EPHC meeting to make sure a new recycling system is put in place,” Brindley said.

“The European Union introduced a take back and recycling scheme for e-waste six years ago. It’s time for Australian governments to bring this country’s recycling practices into the 21st century.”

Brindley said Environment Victoria also supported the introduction of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme.

“Under an EPR scheme, the consumer would be able to return their old TVs, computers or light globes to the manufacturer or drop them off at a specified point. The old product would then be recycled instead of being dumped into landfill,” he said.

John Gertsakis, executive officer of Product Stewardship Australia (PSA) — the industry organisation set up by TV suppliers to run a national collection and recycling scheme — said governments needed to demonstrate a more sophisticated policy approach to electronic waste in Australia.

“A major barrier to PSA’s proposed recycling scheme has been the reluctance of governments, and in particular the federal government, to provide effective regulation that can maximise the environmental benefits of an industry-wide collection and recycling system,” Gertsakis said.

Brindley said the materials associated with e-waste, some of which are highly toxic, were also a major issue.

Brindley will be at the EPHC meeting in Adelaide to raise these issues with the federal and state Environment Ministers.


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