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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

25 October 2005

Attack on waste - recycling top of agenda


Recycling will be top of the Australian Government’s agenda when Environment Ministers meet in Launceston this Wednesday for the Environment Protection and Heritage Council meeting.

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said Australia already led the world in recycling products like newsprint, but could do more in a number of areas. He said a new Productivity Commission inquiry into waste and resource efficiency announced last week would look at factors which impeded our ability to use and recover resources efficiently.

“We know we have the ability to recycle exceptionally well – and the printing and publishing industry, for example, leads the world in recycling newsprint and magazines,” he said.

“Its recycling rate is 74.5 per cent – the best in the world.

“This industry has just developed a landmark fourth product recycling agreement and lifted the target to 76 per cent. The agreement sets out how publishers will help retrieve and recycle the waste from their products until 2010. The EPHC will consider endorsing this voluntary plan at the meeting.

“The work of the publishing and printing sector exemplifies how manufacturers can take responsibility for the waste their products create. It shows the outstanding results we can get under product stewardship agreements. The packaging industry is now working towards the 65 percent recycling target set in its new agreement. This will reduce the amount of packaging sent landfill in Australia over the next five years and will build on the advances under the first Covenant.”

On plastic bags, the Minister welcomed the increased determination by major supermarkets to reach their end-of-year target of cutting plastic bag usage to half of 2002 levels.

“Figures to the end of June showed a reduction of around one billion bags or almost 34 per cent,” Senator Campbell said. “This is a very good result, but the last half of the year will be a real test to reach 50 per cent. I am heartened by the supermarkets’ commitment to make it.

“Other industries such as the mobile phone industry are looking to strengthen voluntary schemes, while the television and tyre sectors are aiming to introduce new recycling schemes in 2007.”

Senator Campbell congratulated individual companies like Dell and HP for introducing take-back schemes for old computers, but said more work was needed to improve the way the computer industry as a whole managed its waste.

“Between one and two million surplus computers are generated each year, and we need to engage the whole industry to make sure these products are recycled properly as some of their components can damage the environment if not disposed of correctly.

“Some computer manufacturers are already on the front foot, and the Australian Information Industry Association is showing initiative in preparing plans to cover their members, but more needs to be done to get on top of the problem.”

Getting manufacturers involved in recycling their products is a key goal of the Council, which brings together Environment Ministers from all states and territories, as well as a representative of local government and environment ministers from New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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