Environment Minister Judy Edwards has called on the Commonwealth to consider all available mechanisms, including product deposit schemes and advance recycling fees, to ensure recovery and recycling of problem electronic wastes such as computers and mobile phones.
“The proliferation of cheap computers and mobile phones has resulted in millions of obsolete products building up in people’s homes and businesses,” Dr Edwards said.
“These products contain heavy metals and other hazardous materials that can leave a toxic timebomb in landfills for future generations to manage.
“We need to develop a co-ordinated national approach to show we are serious about electronic waste. All options must be on the table for consideration, including extended producer responsibility mechanisms such as take back and product deposit schemes.”
The Minister said it was necessary for producers to accept greater responsibility for their products to ensure there was a direct incentive for more environmentally-friendly design and manufacture with less waste, better recycling capacity and fewer hazardous materials.
“If we cannot achieve meaningful voluntary recycling rates for these problem products, then we need to have in our policy toolkit the capacity to require producers to take responsibility and clean up their act,” she said.
Dr Edwards said it would be a failure of Commonwealth leadership if action to address toxic electronic waste relied only on voluntary measures and years were spent quibbling over ‘realistic’ recycling targets.
Western Australia had adopted an extended producer responsibility policy that sought to establish a partnership approach to the development of these schemes, to deliver sustainable waste management outcomes at the least cost to industry, local government and the environment.
The Minister said the emphasis in the WA policy was to seek the co-operation of industry in addressing problem wastes.
Minister's office: 9220 5050