Rubbish bins

Product Stewardship

Product Stewardship is effectively an approach that can be used to manage the impacts of different products and materials once they reach end-of-life. It acknowledges that those involved in producing, selling, using and disposing of products have a shared responsibility to ensure that those products or materials are managed in a way that reduces their impact on the environment and human health and safety. Product Stewardship Schemes tend to incorporate or be consistent with concepts such as “Polluter Pays”, “Life-cycle Assessment” and “Full-cost Accounting”.

In general terms, Product Stewardship involves producers of products becoming either physically or financially responsibly for collecting, processing, recycling or disposing of post-consumer waste. Product Stewardship Schemes may be directed towards resource conservation, litter control, reducing reliance on landfills or waste to energy facilities, promoting the waste hierarchy or promoting cleaner production. They can also be used to address the downstream impacts of products such as process interference, financial costs to Councils or the environmental costs of inappropriate disposal.

The Western Australian Local Government Association Policy Statement on Extended Producer Responsibility is available.

In June 2014, MWAC endorsed a Discussion Paper on Australian Product Stewardship Schemes. The Discussion Paper is available here.

WA Based Product Stewardship

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007 contains provisions to establish State based Product Stewardship Schemes. Further information is available here.

Federal Product Stewardship

The Product Stewardship Act 2011, establishes the head of power to introduce voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory Product Stewardship Schemes. Further information is available here.

Australian Packaging Covenant

The Australian Packaging Covenant, formerly the National Packaging Covenant, is an agreement between the packaging industry and governments concerning the environmental impacts of packaging. Further information is available here.

Frameworks for Product Stewardship in Australia

NSW

In NSW the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 provides for regular assessment of waste streams to develop an annual priority list of products which might warrant Product Stewardship policy responses. The producers responsible for listed waste streams can be put on notice that they must address issues in relation to their products or face mandatory Product Stewardship Schemes. The NSW Legislation does not prescribe the instruments which might be used, nor does it identify any particular industry or waste stream for attention.

SA

A container deposit scheme has been operating in South Australia since 1975. This is administered by the EPA. South Australia has a clear mandate to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, and pursue a strategy of actively targeting industries whose products or activities are large contributors to landfills. ZeroWaste SA provides industry groups with financial and technical assistance to reduce the amount of waste to landfill.

Victoria

Sustainability Victoria is responsible for working with industry to develop product stewardship initiatives for priority products. This has resulted in pilot industry programs for the return of paint and waste electronic and electrical equipment.

WA

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007 establishes the head of power for Product Stewardship Schemes in WA. It is currently unclear what types of frameworks are being considered by the Government. 

Resources:

EPR: A Guide for Governments
A comprehensive reference on EPR designed for government policy makers.
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