Publications archive - Waste and recycling
Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.
Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.
Prepared in association with Centre for Design at RMIT and Product Ecology Pty Ltd
Department of the Environment and Heritage, January, 2004
In distilling recommended actions from the range of options analysed, the project team sought to identify relevant assessment criteria.
These were developed and discussed with workshop participants and surveyed amongst all identified stakeholders. A survey was sent to over 76 stakeholders in government, industry, industry associations and the community sector. A total of 19 responses were received plus feedback through discussions with key stakeholders. The responses to identified assessment criteria and the relevant weighting attributed to each is outlined in Chapter 9 and Appendix E.
In identifying a range of actions to propose for future implementation, the project team drew on:
|Implementation||Primary Initiative||Parties Involved|
|Agreement between Government and industry to maximise recovery of TVs and computers in order to maximise resource efficiency and minimise disposal of hazardous materials.||State and Australian Government agencies||AIIA and AEEMA|
|Establishment of special purpose industry driven organisation E-Waste Australia to run industry initiatives. Organisation to have industry representatives and observers from Government and consumers.||AIIA and AEEMA||State and Australian Government agencies|
|Manufacturers/importers to agree to introduce a tiered fee on sales to fund the activities of the organisation - This is to be a condition of joining.||E-Waste Australia||Manufacturers and Importers.|
|Commitment from individual company members to adopt for the Australian market, EU standards relating to DfE, Design for Disassembly and product material usage (phase out of hazardous materials, plastic resin coding, etc.).||E-Waste Australia and member companies||Manufacturers and Importers.|
|Commitment from industry fund members to provide spare parts availability for a period of 10 years, including consumables, or equivalent alternatives aimed at maximising product life, e.g. extended warranties.||E-Waste Australia and member companies||Manufacturers and Importers|
|State Governments to announce a foreshadowed ban on TV and computer disposal including components. This is subject to adequate infrastructure.||State Governments||Waste Management Industry|
|State and Australian Governments to introduce a safety net (i.e. a NEPM) to make it a requirement for importers to join the organisation and therefore contribute funds as part of an approved scheme.||State and Australian Government||E-Waste Australia and Importers|
|E-Waste Australia members to provide initial funding injection to cover first year operations until fee is available - This could be refundable from future fund amount.||E-Waste Australia||E-Waste Australia members|
|Fund to be transparent to consumers and backed by an education and information campaign to outline purpose and environmental objectives. Campaign to emphasise fee to fund recycling current waste and is not linked to the disposal of future purchased product. National education and information campaign paid by fund covering issues of:
||E-Waste Australia||Government agencies/ retailers/ consumer organisations|
|Introduction of staged collection network strategy starting with capital cities. Collection network to be twofold. Drop off at transfer stations or other secure/staffed facilities with adequate storage. Material to be kept out of weather and stockpiled to freight efficient volumes.||E- Waste Australia||Local Government/ Reprocessors/ Charities|
|Co-ordinated collection from drop off points to reprocessing facilities in Melbourne/Sydney, operated either by recovery reprocessors or as a contracted service paid for from funds. Refurbishment or dismantling of equipment. Refurbished units to be sold in Australia or into overseas markets.||E-Waste Australia||Local Government/ Reprocessors/ Charities/ Australian government|
|All units received by reprocessors logged and a fee paid from the fund, based on number and type of units (less for modern units, refurbishment, export / more for large units, monitors, old units). Funding for reprocessing should be linked to the level of recovery (higher for full glass recovery, plastic recovery). Guidelines for reprocessing to ensure maximum environmental benefit and minimal hazard.||E-Waste Australia||Reprocessors|
|Tendered regular charity or council collection on a street by street basis in inner urban areas and SME's. Payments from the fund based on the area covered and the recovery levels. Units collected to be the property of the fund.||E-Waste Australia||Charities/ Local government|
|Ongoing commercial collection of units from large commercial organisations. A contribution from the fund for units collected by non-tendered operators.||E-Waste Australia||Commercial Collection Organisation|
|Fund able to be used for drop off collection infrastructure and for reprocessing R&D.||E-Waste Australia||Reprocessors/ Local Government|
|Repair facilities to act as collection points and provide units to reprocessors.||E-Waste Australia||E-Equipment repair sector|
|Expansion of collection to include provincial centres to ensure >85 % national coverage (within 20 minutes travel distance).||E-Waste Australia||Local Government/ Collectors|
|Regular (annual) auditing of units recovered (and destination) and material available.||E-Waste Australia||Independent auditor|
|Annual review of fund contributions to collection and reprocessing taking account of efficiency gains, market conditions, units collected. Review of fee levels to meet anticipated program needs.||E-Waste Australia||Independent auditor|
|Extend scheme beyond TVs and PCs/laptops/printer/scanners/other computer peripherals/VCR/DVD/stored equipment/phones/small electrical.||E-Waste Australia||Manufacturers/ Importers|
|Enact landfill bans subject to market adequacy and collection infrastructure.||State and Australian Government Agencies||Reprocessors/ Waste management sectors|
|Undertake research and development (applied and strategic) with a view to improving collection infrastructure, logistics, materials processing and associated technology development.||E-Waste Australia and member companies||Research institutions,/ Waste management industry|
|Calculation of key performance indicators annually on collection volumes and other criteria such as consumer awareness of collection options. Monitoring of product and material exported assessing destination and environmental outcome.||E-Waste Australia||Independent auditor|
In framing a coherent and practical package of actions for dealing with electronic waste, attention was given to the flow of materials through the product life. Flowcharts summarising the production, use and disposal pathways of both TVs and PCs and peripherals are presented at the end of this chapter.
The cost efficient collection of e-waste needs to take account of where products are reaching end of life, how consumers would be prepared to provide unwanted units and logistical issues such as:
Attention was also given to the variable needs of consumers. Some do not have access to cars, some have minimal lifting capacity and others live in remote locations.
Taking all of this into account the recommended combination offers the greatest potential for maximising recovery of PCs and TVs from households and SMEs. It is acknowledged that a recovery system for large corporations/ organisations need to operate alongside of this. Such collections already exist and are maintained by the higher value of the equipment being collected, the more concentrated volumes and that the locations are predominately in central urban areas.
Collection of TVs and PCs are most practically handled by the following options:
Transfer stations have been identified as the most accessible drop-off points for residents in outer urban, large provincial cities and smaller regional centres. Assistance may need to be provided for:
Collection would occur most successfully at staffed transfer stations where it is possible to ensure that residents dispose of the materials correctly. Storage of material would need to be weather proof for maintaining product integrity.
When a customer has discovered that an electrical appliance has broken they often take it to a service centre first. Due to the low cost of new equipment it is often uneconomical to fix the appliance. Customers could use the service centre as a drop-off area if they decide not to have their appliance repaired. Store waste could be collected in an aggregated form as for transfer stations. This would apply to both TV repair and computer repair facilities in urban areas.
Regular promotional campaigns are run to encourage consumers to drop off their hazardous e-waste to local transfer stations, council depots or designated drop-off area.
These collections should be extended to cover PCs and TVs. This represents a well promoted 'bring day' option that services most capital city areas over a three year period. All collections are staffed and structured adequately to deliver collected material to reprocessing facilities upon completion of the day.
Where computers or TVs are delivered to consumers' homes, retailers could offer a back loading service on delivery. This could be done at time of delivery or as a separate collection a short time after delivery. This service would require promotion to customers by retailers. This would be an essential service in rural/remote areas.
The collection of televisions, computers and peripherals could be contracted out to charities. This would allow collection for refurbishment of appliances for re-use within the community.
It is envisaged that the collection of computers and televisions would be added to existing collections of clothing and household items. These collections are conducted in a systematic way with calls made to householders on a street by street basis followed by a door-to-door collection as arranged. This collection arrangement could see e-waste collected without additional collections being established. It would operate along side the drop-off opportunities outlined above. It could be a convenient and practical option, particularly for those without vehicles or who unable to lift these items.
An online collection system could be put into place for people to register when they have an item, which needs to be collected. This would allow a co-ordinated collection system to be put into place. Pickup could be contracted on a regional basis to services operating in the area. This method would help to keep an 'at call' service within reasonable costs parameters. This option could be particularly valuable in servicing small to medium commercial enterprises. It could operate in conjunction with the charity collection outlined above.
It is suggested that a single industry established and controlled body could be set up to regulate and co-ordinate the recycling program. For the purpose of this report a hypothetical industry body called 'E-Waste Australia' is referred to. The role of 'E-Waste Australia' is to:
E-Waste Australia would be established as an initiative of the computer and television industry sectors. It is envisaged that other sectors could join the organisation and its scope expand to cover other e-waste. It is considered beneficial for the organisation to have representation from Government and community. E-Waste Australia will enable the progress of product stewardship and Shared Product Responsibility initiatives. The establishment of a product stewardship organisation will need to take competition issues into account as addressed by the ACCC.
Government and industry need to adopt the maximising of the recovery of embodied value as a policy goal of e-waste recovery. Included in this is a high priority on the safe handling and management of toxic materials.
The aim of the program should be to build up collection in line with available processing capacity. Utilising overseas processing capacity could play a role in ensuring this build up occurs as quickly as possible.
A priority for E-Waste Australia should be to provide assistance to reprocessors to allow complete disassembly and reuse, or recycling of a broad range of materials/components. This would include assistance to plastics reprocessors to safely undertake mechanical recycling of key polymers.
E-Waste Australia needs to regularly monitor reprocessing activity to ensure safe handling and management of toxic or hazardous materials i.e. brominated flame retardants both in Australia and overseas. This monitoring should extend to ensure any exported e-waste is undertaken in compliance with the Basel Convention.
There is also a need to ensure consistency between the regulatory agencies of states on the classification of hazardous wastes.
It is recommended that funding for this program would be in the form of a levy. The levy would be visible to consumers at purchase. The levy would be used to cover the following costs:
It is proposed that the brand owners pay the levy to E-Waste Australia. The level at which the levy is applied should be consistent across product types and should reflect net recovery costs. The levy could be at a two level rate, e.g. a lower rate for TVs below $1000in value and a higher rate for TVs with a value greater than $1000.
While the levy rate per product should be simple and consistent, the expenditure of the funds would be complex and change dependent on the circumstances.
E-Waste Australia would need to annually assess income from the levy and adjust as required. This could be through an increased levy rate to boost funding, or through a levy 'holiday' if funds are deemed beyond requirements. It is accepted that the fees levied on sales and paid by individual companies will not reflect the ratio of brands in the end-of-life material handled. The fee should be applied in a manner that does not distort the market.
The delay in building the fund may mean that in the first year advanced payment of some fees may be required.
The level of understanding in the Australian community on disposal of e-waste is very limited. A priority will be to educate the community on the environmental imperative to recover valuable resources and to prevent hazardous materials entering the waste stream.
The scope of the educational campaign should also outline the purpose of establishing a fee on the sale of new products. This will need to include an explanation that the cost of collection and reprocessing is not covered by the value of materials recovered. The structure of the fee should be communicated to consumers via retailers. This will need to stress that the fee paid contributes to a fund for recovery of current e-waste rather than being retained to cover the eventual disposal of the purchased item.
A key aspect of the task is the promotion of the different collection and drop off options available. This should be done in a manner that reflects a national roll out of return routes and is locally relevant and accurate.
It is proposed that both short and long-term targets be set addressing both infrastructure and diversion rates. The first set of targets would address the set up of enabling legislation and infrastructure. The second set of targets would commence upon completion of the first set of targets. They would address rates of diversion from landfill and recycling rates for both materials and units.
Monitoring and reporting would be the responsibility of E-Waste Australia. The body will need to establish performance indicators including:
Reporting of these indicators should be undertaken annually to government and the broader community in order to maintain community support for the funding arrangement. E-Waste Australia would be required to report to EPHC ministers.
It is recommended that in order to encourage investment in collection and refurbishment/ recycling infrastructure, bans be placed on the disposal of certain electronic products to landfill. Initially this should be in the form of a foreshadowed ban, allowing time for the establishment of collection and reprocessing infrastructure.
As most domestic and SME waste is handled via transfer stations, there is a consistency between these sites being primary collection points, which facilitate separation for the residual waste.
Bans should be introduced at a State government level and should reflect the geographic coverage of collection systems. Such bans are commonplace in many overseas jurisdictions.
The ban should be structured so that e-waste products can be added as reprocessing opportunities exists.
In order to maintain commercial neutrality, there would be a requirement that all brand owners contribute to the recovery of e-waste through payment of the fee to E-Waste Australia. This is less of an issue with the TV industry where 95% of the market is held by a small group of companies committed to product stewardship on a collective basis.
It is a more important issue with PCs where 42% of units are produced by a large number of companies without a documented commitment to product stewardship. It is proposed that using the National Packaging Council (NPC) as a model, a NEPM be established by EPHC to require free riders to join and contribute to E-Waste Australia.
It is recommend that through voluntary industry commitment or through Australian standards, that the removal of hazardous substances from electronic equipment should be pursued. As Australia is a small market in global terms, it is recommended that these restrictions mirror those adopted by the EU with the same or similar phase out periods. This should address materials such as mercury, lead and brominated fire retardants.