Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2012
Outcome 2: Operation of the Product Stewardship Act 2011
The National Waste Policy, agreed by environment ministers in November 2009 and endorsed by COAG in October 2010, provides the strategic national framework for waste management and resource recovery to 2020. The policy set six key directions and identified 16 priority strategies that would benefit from a national or coordinated approach.
The Product Stewardship Act 2011 came into effect on 8 August 2011, delivering on a key commitment by the Australian Government under Strategy 1 of the policy to establish a national framework, underpinned by Commonwealth legislation, to support voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory product stewardship schemes.
Purpose of the Act
The Product Stewardship Act 2011 provides a national framework to effectively manage the environmental, health and safety impacts of products, and in particular those impacts associated with the disposal of products.
The objectives of the Act are to:
- reduce the impact that products have on the environment, throughout their life cycle
- reduce the impact that substances contained in products have on the environment, and
on the health and safety of human beings, throughout the lives of those products
- contribute to Australia meeting its international obligations concerning the impact of the products and substances referred to above
- contribute to reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted, energy used and water consumed in connection with products and waste from products.
Operational aspects of the Act
The Act provides for three levels of product stewardship: voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory.
Voluntary product stewardship
The Product Stewardship Act 2011 provides for organisations to voluntarily seek accreditation by the Australian Government for product stewardship arrangements that meet specified quality requirements. The purpose of voluntary accreditation is to provide an avenue for encouraging and recognising product stewardship without the need to regulate, and to provide assurance to the community that a voluntary product stewardship arrangement is operating to achieve the outcomes it has committed to achieve. The Act provides for details of the accreditation process to be set out in a Ministerial Determination.
In February 2012 the department released the Consultation paper on the Proposed Model for Accreditation of Voluntary Product Stewardship Arrangements to obtain feedback on the proposed accreditation requirements. A total of 20 submissions were received and 42 people attended public forums held in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
Feedback gained though consultation will inform the development of a Ministerial Determination and regulations for application fees. These legislative instruments are expected to be finalised by the end of 2012, with implementation of the accreditation program likely to begin in early 2013.
Co-regulatory product stewardship
The Product Stewardship Act 2011 provides for co-regulatory product stewardship, a combination of industry action and supporting government regulation, whereby government sets the outcomes and requirements to be met while industry has flexibility in how the outcomes and requirements are achieved.
The first priority for implementation of the Act was to regulate end-of-life televisions and computers under the co-regulatory provisions. The Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations 2011 came into effect on 8 November 2011. The Regulations provide for a National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, funded and run by industry, which will progressively increase the national recycling rate for televisions, computers, printers and computer products to 80 per cent in 2021-22.
Under the scheme, importers and manufacturers of significant volumes of televisions, computers and computer products are required to be members of an approved co-regulatory arrangement (a membership arrangement for delivering activities or measures to achieve the outcomes of the scheme on behalf of its members). The co-regulatory arrangement must have an administrator, who applies to the minister for approval to establish an arrangement, and operates the arrangement on behalf of it members.
As at 26 April 2012, the minister approved DHL Supply Chain, the Australian & New Zealand Recycling Platform Limited, and E-cycle Solutions Pty Ltd as administrators to collect and recycle products on their behalf their members.
As at 9 July 2012, importers responsible for 93 per cent of all televisions imported and 87 per cent of all computers, printers and computer products imported in the 2010-11 financial year had become members of an approved co-regulatory arrangement.
The administrator is also responsible for ensuring all reasonable steps are taken for the arrangement to meet the outcomes set out in the regulations. The scheme has three outcomes for an annual recycling target, the provision of reasonable access to collection services, and (from the 2014-15 financial year) an annual material recovery target.
The first collection services commenced in mid-2012, for the progressive delivery of access to services by the end of 2013, and co-regulatory arrangements are required to take all reasonable steps to achieve the annual recycling target, which progressively increases from 30 per cent in the first target year 2012-13 to 80 per cent in 2021-22.
The department will also commence its compliance activities from the first target year to ensure the outcomes and requirements of the regulations are met.
Regulatory (mandatory) product stewardship
The Product Stewardship Act 2011 provides for mandatory product stewardship, where both requirements and outcomes are prescribed in regulations.
There were no regulations under development for mandatory product stewardship schemes under the Act in 2011-12.
The Product Stewardship Act 2011 requires that where a class of products is being considered for some form of accreditation or regulation under the Act, at least 12 months notification must be given via the department’s website before regulations may be made in relation to that class of products.
On 19 December 2011 a notice was issued in relation to packaging and subsets of packaging, such as consumer packaging and beverage packaging. The issuing of this notice, which coincided with the release of a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement on packaging, was intended to cater for the possibility that regulations may be required following completion of the regulatory impact assessment process.
Product Stewardship Advisory Group
The Product Stewardship Act 2011 requires the establishment of a Product Stewardship Advisory Group. The role of the group is to provide independent advice to the minister for consideration in developing a list of products. Preparations for establishing the group are underway.
The list of products, which must be published by the minister annually, will comprise products in relation to which the minister is proposing to consider, during the next financial year, whether some form of accreditation or regulation under the Act might be appropriate. The first list of products is due for publication by 30 June 2013.
Freedom of Information
No requests were received under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
No Administrative Appeals Tribunal appeals were received.
This section fulfils the reporting requirements of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 (section107) for the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.
The department’s 2011-12 operating costs for the implementation and regulation of the ProductStewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations 2011, including staff salaries and allowances, consultancies, advertising and other related expenses, was $965,000.
For more information on the Product Stewardship Act 2011 go to www.environment.gov.au/settlements/waste/product-stewardship/legislation.
For more information on the Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations 2011 go to www.environment.gov.au/settlements/waste/ewaste/publications/pubs/fs-regulations.pdf.
For more information on the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme go to www.environment.gov.au/settlements/waste/ewaste.