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Tag Archives: Product Stewardship

Addressing barriers to Product Stewardship in Australia

Product stewardship calls for companies, supply chains and retailers to take greater responsibility for their services and products across their whole life cycle, from design to production to use and, finally, disposal. 

Earlier in July the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence released a white paper report “Addressing the Barriers: A needs assessment of product stewardship in Australia.” The paper aims to explore and understand the barriers to product stewardship in Australia, investigating opportunities for further development and expansion of product stewardship across the nation.

The paper discusses the major challenge such as free-riders; businesses or organisations that may benefit from product stewardship activity without contributing to the implementation or operation. 

Although not discussed in the paper, the voluntary trend of product stewardship in Australia is also an issue to consider. 

This trend is a particularly Australian phenomenon, as most other countries support regulatory approaches. Australian industry leadership towards product stewardship should be congratulated. For example, the recent announcement of the Australian Toy Association partnering with other leading brands to investigate product stewardship of toys, and the recognition of best practice for Tyre Stewardship Australia are positive developments. 

However, similar to the free-riding organisations, companies and industries who use voluntary as a means to defer, delay or avoid responsibility should be brought to account. 

Voluntary approaches cannot be realistically expected to work in a timely manner where there is no industry agreement and coordination, and where the brand owners are diffuse, have little or no local decision-making authority or are no longer trading. In such cases it at best will be a slow process and many years before some sort of voluntary approach is figured out. 

In general, the need for government intervention is generally greater the more complex the products and supply chain.

For product stewardship broadly to meet community expectations, to reach waste and recycling targets, to discourage free-riders and to support genuine leadership efforts, there therefore needs to be clear market signals that government will regulate when and where needed. 

While the Centre’s white paper correctly highlights key barriers, overcoming them will require the government to act where appropriate to put pressure on industry and ensure accountability, and that includes judicious use of regulatory powers.

Toy Industry to collaborate and develop sustainability solutions

The Australian Toy Association (ATA) has been supported with a through the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) delivered by Sustainability Victoria. This is a world first for the toy industry and another example of an industry taking responsibility for its products.

In collaboration with leading toy industry brands and retailers, the funding enables the ATA to develop and investigate circular economy options for toys. The project’s first stage will develop a material flows analysis, building an understanding of the movement of toys through the economy. The results of the analysis will link into the overarching project to develop solutions that will reduce the environmental impact of toys. 

Equilibrium congratulates ATA for their leadership and vision and is excited to partner with them on this project in developing circular economy options for toys.

National Plastics Plan maps longer term approach

The Australian Government last week launched the National Plastics Plan to reduce plastics waste through a multi aspect approach, looking at both the upstream and downstream methods to limit plastic waste. The plan aims to help ensure Australia meets its waste targets, prompting government to work alongside essential industry and other supply chain holders. The plan outlines wide ranging initiatives, acting on five different fronts;

  • > Prevention: Addressing plastics at the source, phasing out packaging products that do not meet the relevant compostable standards, plastic free beach initiatives, prompting industry shift to easily recyclable plastics and national packaging targets.
    >Recycling: Introduction of waste export bans, product stewardship programs, enforcing material performance standards and national packaging targets.
    >Consumer education: Achieve consistency in kerbside bin collections, container deposit schemes and better recycling information for consumers.
    >Plastics in our oceans and waterways: Take actions to reduce plastics leaking into the environment, such as pursuing a global coordinated action on marine litter and micro plastic pollution and initiating industry led cigarette butt litter stewardship schemes.
    >Research: Investment into new data systems and plastic technologies, designed to track how plastic flows through our economy. Develop a circular economy and roadmap and distribute cooperative research centre projects grants.

To read the plan in detail, visit The National Plastics Plan.

Keeping Child Car Safety Seats Out of Landfill

A program to recover and recycle old, unwanted and potentially unsafe child car safety seats will take a major step forward with a grant from the Australian Government through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund (NPSIF).

The grant will enable the development of SeatCare, a program that aims to help the public safely dispose of used child car safety seats for recycling. It is planned that SeatCare will commence in 2021 and if successful the program will be rolled out nationally over two to three years.

Equilibrium, in collaboration with a group of manufacturers, retailers and child safety and automotive organisations, is designing the program that aims to improve road safety while also reducing waste to landfill and costs to the community through illegal dumping of child car safety seats.

Organisations working together on this national initiative include: Baby Bunting, Infasecure, Dorel, Britax, Kidsafe, NRMA, RAA and Equilibrium.

SeatCare aims to provide a unique community service consistent with the targets and priorities in the Australian Government’s National Waste Policy Action Plan.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, said that we are shifting the dial in Australia as we change our mindset to thinking about waste as a resource and move towards a more circular economy.

“This new product stewardship scheme for old, unwanted or obsolete child car safety seats will reduce waste going to landfill, lift recycling rates and help consumers make a practical, positive difference for the environment”.

Child car safety seats have a limited life-span and their integrity can be compromised by factors such as accidents, time/age, temperature and sunlight and general wear and tear from use and moving them in and out of vehicles numerous times.

At present, there is no program to support the take-back of old child car safety seats in Australia. A trial in 2018-2019 found there is a growing public desire for a program and that it is feasible to recover the seats and dismantle them.

It is estimated that over 200,000 child car seats are disposed of every year, with the majority being sent to landfill. This is despite the fact that over 80% of child car safety seats can be recycled once dismantled.

SeatCare aims to provide parents and carers with a free and environmentally-friendly option for disposing of their old child car restraints. By collecting and disassembling the seats on-site, the program aims to divert in excess of 900 tonnes of waste away from landfill and back into the recycling stream.

It is expected that the SeatCare scheme will accept a variety of child car safety seats and associated accessories including:

> Rear facing carriers and forward facing seats
> Booster seats
> Car seat and carrier frames, as well as strapping
> Items that attach directly to the seat or carrier supported by the manufacturer

The NPSIF has been created to support product stewardship schemes which reduce waste and prevent harmful materials from ending up in landfill. These schemes increase recycling activity and the recovery of valuable materials from the products we use every day.

The full Equilibrium media release can be downloaded here

The Ministers’ media release can be viewed here

The list of successful recipients and projects under the NPSIF can be viewed here

For media comment or further information about the SeatCare program, contact Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961 

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Repair

According to MobileMuster, 33 per cent of Australians have repaired their mobile phones and it is expected the number of people reusing devices will increase over time as younger Australians are more likely to opt for repairing or purchasing second hand phones.

Right to Repair is a consumer’s ability to restore faulty goods, or access repairing services, at a competitive price. This can include repairing by a manufacturer, a third-party, or self-repair.

The inquiry will consider a range of issues impacting the Australian repair market, including potential barriers and enablers of greater competition.

It will draw on international experience and examine Right to Repair mechanisms that support consumer rights, promote competition in the repair market, and encourage product design requirements to extend product life and reduce e-waste.

The Productivity Commission will undertake broad public consultation, including with state and territory governments. The inquiry is due to report to Government within twelve months.

The terms of reference can be found at the Productivity Commission website.

Repairing a product can be a strategy for waste avoidance and reduction in some product classes, including vehicles, consumer electronics, IT equipment and appliances.

If your company, industry association or local council is looking to explore and understand the relevance of repairing a product as part of the waste management process, please don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH  (03) 9372 5356.

Next Level Product Stewardship Keynote Session

The relevance of product  stewardship is gaining momentum in policy circles and several industries, but how do we move beyond collection and recycling schemes to more effectively address life-cycle environmental priorities and stimulate new business opportunities?

Equilibrium’s John Gertsakis will be presenting one of the keynote sessions at the SA Waste & Resource Recovery Conference being held from the 28-29 October 2020 at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Hosted by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia, the the conference theme for 2020 is ‘outside the square, inside the circle’. John’s presentation will discuss why product stewardship needs to step-up and take more practical action back up the supply chain and across the product or material life-cycle.

Yesterday’s stewardship models, while important necessary, are proving inadequate in many cases and fail to genuinely embed key circular economy principles such as product durability, reuse, repair and alternative consumption models.

The Review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 and the proposed Centre of Excellence, provide a timely launching point for John’s presentation to consider how Australia might accelerate the adoption of product and materials stewardship across diverse industries and sectors.

The transition to a circular economy will require smarter solutions that acknowledge the role of circular design in preventative measures rather than current scenarios focused on managing end-of-life products and materials.

John will discuss how stewardship can achieve greater gains by being life-cycle oriented and outcome focused.

The SA Waste & Resource Recovery Conference will feature a range of speakers  discussing product stewardship and provides a well-timed forum to explore how the Australia’s immense talent can ‘turbo-charge’ the successful uptake of next-level product stewardship policy and operations.

The full conference program is now available and can be viewed here.

For more information on John and the rest of the team, visit our About Us page.

Boosting Product Stewardship Outcomes

The Australian Government has taken a major step-up on product stewardship policy reforms and funding aimed at encouraging manufacturers, retailers and industry groups to take greater responsibility for the entire life-cycle of the products they produce and sell.

The recurring theme and expectation on product stewardship in recent announcements by the Environment Minister is clear:

“We are building more capacity in our recycling sector and we need industry and brands to take greater responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts,”  said Minister Ley.

The reforms and funding are also taking a broader view of what product stewardship can and should do to better manage Australia’s waste challenges and make effective use of recycled materials in manufacturing, construction and infrastructure. Circular product design, reuse, repair and increased support for new stewardship schemes are just some of the recommendations and measures that the Government is seeking enable and facilitate.

The proposals are being put forward as the Morrison Government today launches the first round of grants from its new $20 million Product Stewardship Investment Fund to ensure manufacturers, retailers and industry groups take greater responsibility for the entire life-cycle of the products they produce and sell.

Grants of up to $1 million will be available for individual applicants to expand existing schemes or develop new ones, with first round applications already open.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the fund was a critical part of the Morrison Government’s billion-dollar recycling strategy ensuring that there are clear streams for collection, processing and remanufacture.

“We are building more capacity in our recycling sector and we need industry and brands to take greater responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts,” she said.

“There will be a particular focus on e-waste, ensuring that anything with a plug or a battery is subject to an industry scheme.

“Solar panels, batteries, and even non electronic items like child car seats all have recyclable components which shouldn’t be wasted in landfill.

It’s  noteworthy to  read that the Government is using the reforms and investment to both recognise proactive product stewardship initiatives by industry, but also to formally highlight and monitor those industries and companies that move slowly, resist stewardship action and remain indifferent to their corporate social and environmental responsibility.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans explained how product stewardship schemes would reduce the impact of products on the environment and create new job opportunities for Australians.

“This funding will shift the dial in Australia as we change our mindsets to thinking about waste as a resource,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“There will be strong economic and environmental benefits from turbo-charging product stewardship.

Review of the Product Stewardship Act

The  Government also released the Review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, supporting all 26 recommendations to improve product stewardship outcomes, including:

> establishing a new Centre of Excellence to mentor and drive best practice product stewardship schemes across the nation

> broadening the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include all electrical and electronic products (e-waste), so that all consumer products with a plug or battery can be recycled

> shifting the emphasis from stand-alone products to entire material streams

> reducing the costs and improving the benefits of scheme accreditation so consumers have confidence in their recycling

> strengthening the Minister’s priority products list to encourage brands to work together towards an industry-led scheme by adding clear timeframes

> calling out those letting consumers and their industry down by not participating in a scheme.

Grant applications for new Product Stewardship Investment Fund are now available at www.business.gov.au

Equilibrium has a long history of successful involvement in scheme design review, communications and auditing across various product classes, and we look forward to seeing the reforms and investment expand the diversity of measurable product stewardship activity nationwide.

To read an Equilibrium piece on Next Level Product Stewardship, follow this link.

If you are interested in the Product Stewardship Investment Fund, or need advice or assistance with your submissions and initial inquiries, we’re eager to support your efforts.

Don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

Recycling Modernisation Fund Transforming the Waste Industry

The Morrison Government will commit $190 million to a new Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) that will generate $600 million of recycling investment and drive a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity.

Announced today by The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment, and The Hon Trevor Evans MP, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, the Recycling Modernisation Fund will help create more than 10,000 jobs with over 10 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill.

The RMF will support innovative investment in new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture materials such as mixed plastic, paper, tyres and glass, with Commonwealth funding contingent on co-funding from industry, states and territories.

Australia’s waste and recycling transformation is being further strengthened by an additional:

> $35 million to implement Commonwealth commitments under Australia’s National Waste Policy Action Plan, which sets the direction for waste management and recycling in Australia until 2030.

> $24.6 million on Commonwealth commitments to improve our national waste data so it can measure recycling outcomes and track progress against our national waste targets.

> The introduction of new Commonwealth waste legislation to formally enact the Government’s waste export ban and encourage companies to take greater responsibility for the waste they generate, from product design through to recycling, remanufacture or disposal (Product Stewardship).

The moves are part of a national strategy to change the way Australia looks at waste, grow our economy, protect our environment and reach a national resource recovery target of 80% by 2030.

“As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy,” Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said today.

“At the same time, we need to stop throwing away tonnes of electronic waste and batteries each year and develop new ways to recycle valuable resources.

“As we pursue National Waste Policy Action Plan targets, we need manufacturers and industry to take a genuine stewardship role that helps create a sustainable circular economy.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, said that the unparalleled expansion of Australia’s recycling capacity followed close consultation with industry.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry.

The full media release can be viewed here.

If you are interested in the announcements or need assistance in assessing the opportunhities, please contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

 

Recycling Victoria: A New Economy

The Victorian Government is seeking to improve the performance of the waste and recycling sector, and has released a 10-year policy and action plan – Recycling Victoria – to reform the system with a focus on the circular economy.

Victoria exports approximately 1.27million tonnes of paper, plastic and cardboard each year overseas, and this includes 30% of all recycling collected from Victorian households.

The figures are compelling; it is estimated that by 2046, Victorians will create 40% more waste than in 2017-18. The extent of the activity and industry development is significant as highlighted by the total quantum of funding that has poured into Victorian waste and resource recovery initiatives; $134 million from the Victorian Government since 2015.

You can download a copy the Recycling Victoria policy here.

A four bin waste and recycling system, a container deposit system (CDS), a circular economy business innovation centre, landfill levy reform and increased funding for infrastructure, are among the package of measures outlined in the policy.

The policy in part talks about the transition to a circular economy and the importance of taking action across the life-cycle of materials to maximise value and minimise waste.

Four specific goals

Four specific goals guide the process of moving from a take-make-waste model, to a more system-wide approach that seeks to be circular, sustainable and economically responsible.

These four goals are aimed at taking a smarter approach to making, using, recycling and managing products, buildings, infrastructure and materials.

Goal 1 – Design to last, repair and recycle

Generate less waste in businesses through innovation and design; use recycled materials in products and consider impacts across product life cycles; and support business to explore new circular economy business models.

Targets and outcomes include:

> 15 per cent reduction in total waste generation per capita between 2020 and 2030.

> Divert 80% of waste from landfill by 2030, with an interim target of 72% by 2025.

> Cut the volume of organic material going to landfill by 50% between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2025.

Goal 2 – Use products to create more value

Help people make smart purchasing decisions and extend the life of products and support the reuse economy; repair goods where possible.

Targets and outcomes include:

> 15% reduction in total waste generation per capita between 2020 and 2030.

> Support Victorian communities and council to reduce waste.

> Prevent plastic pollution.

> Support the reuse economy.

Goal 3 – Recycle more resources

Reform kerbside collections to generate more value from waste; improve the separation of recyclable materials; develop markets for recovered materials; plan for and boost investment in recycling infrastructure; embed the waste hierarchy in the management of materials; support the development of appropriate waste to energy facilities.

Targets and outcomes include:

> Divert 80% of waste from landfill by 2030, with and interim target of 72% by 2025.

> Halve the volume of organic material going to landfill by 50% between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2030.

> 100% of households have access to a separate food and organics recovery service or local composting by 2030.

Goal 4 – Reduce harm from waste and pollution

Protect communities and the environment from high-risk and hazardous wastes.

Targets and outcomes include:

> Support safe and effective high-risk and hazardous waste management.

> The Vic Gov will consider the potential introduction of new levies for waste being stockpiled for long periods, recover avoided waste levies and disposal fee for illegally stockpiled wastes, ensure adequate disposal point of asbestos across the state.

> The Victorian Government spends an estimated $58 million each year in clean-up costs at abandoned waste sites and $105 million each year to respond to stockpile fires. Clean-up costs and lost landfill levy revenue from illegal dumping equates to $30 million a year.

Monitoring and measuring progress

Of course, accurate data and transparency will be key to monitoring the reforms and their intended outcomes. More specifically the Victorian policy outlines it ‘key commitment’ to expanding Victorian’s waste data systems by:

> Establish a framework for monitoring progress towards the circular economy, including the identification of indicators and metrics

> Introduce a new waste and recycling data system to enable better waste management and circular economy monitoring

> Continuing to provide public waste and recycling market intelligence reporting.

The reforms in the Recycling Victoria policy herald an important and necessary opportunity for government, industry and the community to work together to improve kerbside recycling, invest in priority infrastructure and better manage high-risk and hazardous waste.

Recycling Victoria also outlines additional initiatives that can support waste avoidance and behaviour change, further develop waste to energy options and meet community and local council expectations for reliable services.

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients across diverse industries and sectors to adopt specific elements and aspects of the Recycling Victoria policy.

If you have any questions about the  policy and how your organisation can benefit, implement or comply with specific goals, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

Nick Harford on 0419 993 234 or Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961.

Governments Move on Waste Exports

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 48th general meeting in Sydney on 13 MARCH 2020. The discussion focussed on several key issues of national significance including a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

The Communiqué released from the COAG meeting noted that:

“Leaders agreed to introduce a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, fulfilling the commitment they made in August 2019. The ban will be phased in, commencing from 1 July 2020. Leaders also agreed a national response strategy to drive implementation of the ban and help reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill. In line with the response strategy, governments will expand on work with industry to invest in growing the Australian recycling industry and build markets for recycled products.”

Improving our waste and recycling performance is now being addressed on a national basis and with a higher degree of cooperation and coordination than previously experienced.

In particular, the Federal Government is taking a strong leadership role with commitments to review the used packaging NEPM while also investigating regulatory options and the possibility of co-regulatory or mandatory product stewardship schemes for tyres, solar panels and batteries.

Also positive, is a stronger position  by all Governments to support procurement measures that can underpin recycling and recycled content  in construction, manufacturing and infrastructure projects.

The COAG outcome is certainly trending in the right direction and represents noteworthy cooperation across Governments. It also signals a new level of accountability and transparency in policy setting, program delivery and measurable outcomes.

Effective execution and implementation of the COAG response strategy will be essential, as will timely deliver of programs and investment.

A copy of the response strategy can be downloaded here:

Phasing out exports of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres: Response strategy to implement the August 2019 agreement of the Council of Australian Governments

Do you have queries about the COAG response strategy?

If you have any questions about the COAG outcomes, please contact the Nick Harford at Equilibrium on 0419 993 234