The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) welcomes yesterday’s long-awaited release of the review of the Product Stewardship Act and the $20 million Product Stewardship Investment Fund. This is a very important piece of reform necessary to drive greater re-circulation of resources in the economy and less materials going to waste and harming the environment. It is a strong and positive response from the Australian Government.
The NWRIC represents national waste and recycling companies committed to advancing waste and recycling services Australia wide. Ensuring a safe, fair and sustainable waste and recycling industry.
In speaking about yesterday’s announcement, the NWRIC CEO, Rose Read said “NWRIC has been actively advocating for product stewardship to drive the circular economy since the organisation was formed in 2017. Leading up to the 2019 federal election the NWRIC called for the establishment of a National Waste Commissioner who would drive the implementation of the National Waste Policy Action Plan and Product Stewardship Act.
“The Federal Oil Product Stewardship scheme, the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS), MobileMuster and NSW’s Container Deposit Scheme are all excellent examples of how engaging businesses to take responsibility for their products can create better resource management, economic, social and environmental outcomes”.
“NWRIC’s preference is for regulated product stewardship schemes, to ensure all businesses participate and are accountable for delivering agreed government and industry outcomes. However, it considers the proposed changes to the priority product list and voluntary accreditation under the Act, together with the funding will go a long way to ensuring manufacturers, brands, and retailers do not sidestep their stewardship responsibilities and deliver meaningful outcomes transparently. Consumers expect no less.”
“As a first priority, the Commonwealth must ensure that a comprehensive national battery recycling program is in place and funded by all battery brands by the end of 2020. More and more batteries are incorrectly ending up in rubbish and recycling bins, causing fires in collection trucks, processing facilities and landfills on a monthly if not weekly basis, putting lives at risk and causing environmental damage.
“Secondly the Commonwealth should expand the NTCRS to include all products with a plug or a battery as soon as possible. Many of today’s electrical and electronic appliances are made from a variety of plastics, metals and composite materials that potentially contain hazardous substances. These need to be safely collected, transported and processed separately from kerbside recycling.
“Thirdly, all current voluntary schemes for paint, tyres, printer cartridges, mattresses, and agricultural chemical drums should become accredited under the Act by the end of 2020 so there is greater visibility on their performance and that free-riders are exposed. Transparent reporting and accountability are essential prerequisites when it comes to effective product stewardship and building consumer confidence.
“Fourthly, funding for the development of a new stewardship scheme or improvement of an existing scheme must be conditional on that scheme either being accredited, regulated or formally intending to be voluntarily accredited within 12 months of funding.
“Finally, the Commonwealth Government, through its proposed revision of sustainable procurement guidelines, should preference organisations that are participants in a voluntary accredited or regulated product stewardship scheme over those that are not. This is a fundamental requirement of any positive procurement process.
“The industry looks forward to working with the Commonwealth and businesses to develop and implement robust product stewardship schemes that deliver significant resource recovery and reuse outcomes necessary to achieve the National Waste Policy Targets of reducing total waste generated in Australia by 10% per person by 2030, 80% average resource recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030, significantly increase the use of recycled content by governments and industry and phasing out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025 , Ms Read said.