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

13 June 2006

National summit agrees on computer waste

A cure for the environmental headache caused by Australia's love affair with computers became closer today when a roundtable meeting of governments and industry chaired by the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, agreed on a key set of guidelines to develop a computer recycling scheme.

Senator Campbell said the agreement was the most significant progress made since talks on tackling the problem started two years ago.

“Today's meeting gives me confidence that a detailed approach to solving this difficult issue is not far away,” he said.

“One of the main sticking points in the past has been how to deal with historical waste and orphan products. We now have a commitment that industry will take responsibility for these areas and will come forward with a program that covers all of Australia, is free to consumers and is managed by the industry.

“There are roughly 9 million computers, 5 million printers and 2 million scanners in households and businesses across Australia. An estimated 1.6 million computers are thrown away each year, most of them into landfill.

“Computers contain many valuable products which can be salvaged through recycling, but they also contain some chemicals and hazardous substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium -- some of which are recovered in the recycling process, but most are not.

“We do not want these chemicals damaging our soils and waterways.”

Senator Campbell said the meeting in Canberra, attended by 25 Australian, state, territory and local governments and industry representatives, agreed that a working group would meet in Sydney later this month to develop a detailed working model for dealing with unwanted computers.

“I am delighted that we have moved towards a more sustainable future and that more manufacturers have agreed to better manage their products once they have finished their useful life.

“Both government and industry have committed to meet regularly – to ensure that this issue keeps moving forward.”

Attached is an outline of the that lists the key features and benefits of the national computer recycling scheme.

Photographs: related images are available from the photo gallery

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Industry Scheme - Key features and benefits

* IT equipment (exact products TBD) but this is essentially computers (CPUs and monitors), printers and peripherals (keyboards and mice).

Commonwealth of Australia