The Australian Government this week announced the creation of the Product Stewardship Investment Fund, a $20 million initiative aiming to encourage manufacturers, retailers and industry groups to take more 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 stewardship schemes or develop new ones, with first round applications opening Thursday July 9, 2020.
The announcement comes off the back of the Review of the Product Stewardship Act, a consultative process between government, industry and community groups. Planet Ark was intimately involved in providing feedback and advice throughout the entire process and is very pleased to see this work coming to fruition.
The Government is supporting all 26 recommendations submitted to improve product stewardship in Australia 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 (NTCRS) to include all electrical and electronic products (e-waste), so that all consumer products with a plug or battery can be recycled
- 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 companies letting consumers and their industry down by not participating in a scheme
- reducing the costs and improving the benefits of scheme accreditation so consumers have confidence in their recycling
Product stewardship schemes (also known as extended producer responsibility) help share the cost of managing the end of life of a product among industry, government and consumers.
Generally, the cost of waste is either borne by the consumer, governments and councils as clean-up and landfill costs or by the environment when mismanaged. Product stewardship addresses this by putting greater responsibility on the party capable of having the largest positive impact, usually the manufacturer, retailer or importer.
Stewardship schemes work to minimise the health and environmental impact of a product over its entire lifecycle from design, production, distribution, sale and use to disposal, reuse, recovery and recycling.
There are a number of product stewardship schemes currently operating in Australia under different models, including co-regulatory and voluntary product stewardship schemes. These include:
- Cartridges 4 Planet Ark
- National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme
- Tyre Stewardship Australia
- Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation
- Container Deposit Schemes
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