E-Waste Recycling in Australia
A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows that, despite the large strides in the past decade, the Australia’s e-waste system is still in its infancy, compared to the developed markets of Japan, Germany and Finland.
The report, entitled Global e-waste systems-Insights for Australia from other developed countries, was commissioned by the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform (ANZRP).
The EIU report found that Australia produces the highest e-waste per capita-19.71 kilograms per person-compared to Finland (19.52kgs), Germany (17.23kgs) and Japan (16.6kgs). However, Australia’s recycling system for e-waste is still in infancy.
“Progress has been made since the introduction of the National Waste Policy in 2009 and the Product Stewardship Act in 2011. But with e-waste in Australia growing three times faster than other waste categories, the capacity of the country’s systems will have to grow and adapt,” read the EIU report.
In November 2009, the National Waste Policy was agreed by all Australian environment ministers. The policy set the direction of Australia’s waste management and resource recovery to 2020.
In 2012, the Australian government enacted the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, which is funded and run by the television and computer industry. Under the Scheme, householders and small business can drop off unwanted televisions and computers free of charge at designated access points. The Scheme is expected to increase the recycling rate for televisions and computers from 17 per cent in 2010 to 80 per cent by 2021-22.
In February 2013, Standards Australia announced a new Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 5377:2013) for e-waste. The Standard sets out principles and minimum requirements for the safe and environmentally sound collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment.
The EIU report calls for a greater focus on the shared responsibility of all stakeholders to develop a sustainable e-waste recycling system in Australia, not only producers, but also governments, retailers, business and consumers.
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