Posts Tagged ‘consumers’

Australian Environment Ministers Take Action on Batteries and Paint

Posted by GlobalPSC at 4:57 pm, April 11th, 2013Comments15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environment Ministers from Australia have agreed on the need to include end-of-life handheld batteries and waste paint in the Standing Council on Environment and Water’s (SCEW) work plan. In the communique announcing the decision, SCEW stated,

“More than 264 million handheld batteries reach the end of their useful life each year and the equivalent of 18,000 tonnes of paint require disposal each year. There could be significant environmental and community benefits to be gained from working with industry to find better management solutions for these products. Ministers asked officials to develop a work program and examine funding arrangements to progress these issues.”

The Global Product Stewardship Council and GlobalPSC members have been actively facilitating the development of product stewardship for both batteries and paint to help transition from government-funded takeback schemes to industry-led producer responsibility. In addition to running pilot projects, Government members Sustainability Victoria (SV) have been engaging industry players to develop practical approaches to product stewardship for the products.

Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) Chief Executive Dr Helen Lewis supported the SCEW decision, telling the GlobalPSC,

“This decision represents a significant milestone in ABRI’s campaign to promote the development of sustainable recovery programs for used batteries. We look forward to working with environment ministers and other stakeholders to explore options to increase recycling of handheld batteries. We need to ensure that everyone involved in the production or consumption of batteries – from the manufacturer or importer through to the consumer – plays their part in ensuring that batteries are used and recovered in a sustainable way.”

In conjunction with SV and ABRI, the GlobalPSC facilitated initial stakeholder discussions, with an aim to developing a strategic plan to address domestic battery stewardship over the next three years. GlobalPSC Foundation members MS2 have also been incorporating GlobalPSC program expertise and data in developing the public policy and business case on handheld battery product stewardship for SV.

GlobalPSC member the Australian Paint Manufacturers’ Federation (APMF) is collaborating with SV on an industry-led pilot program to collect trade waste data and to examine the most efficient and environmentally sound ways to collect and treat waste paint. The GlobalPSC is incorporating trial results in helping SV develop the public policy and business case for paint stewardship.

Richard Phillips, Executive Director of the APMF, also supported the decision by Environment Ministers and discussed plans for further research,

“The APMF supports the SCEW decision to include waste architectural and decorative paints in its work plan. A key element of our current Strategic Plan involves working with Governments on a future product stewardship scheme for waste architectural and decorative paint. When looking to the future, the APMF Council believes that a voluntary industry program has the potential to provide a cost effective and efficient product stewardship scheme for our sector. The current PaintCare trial program in Victoria also acknowledges that any future product stewardship program should also consider the issue of waste paint generated from the trade sector. Currently, there is no collection service in any state or territory for trade waste paint. The APMF also believes that further research is now warranted. Hence, we are funding a joint research project with Sustainability Victoria for Swinburne University of Technology to generate new research into better and more environmental friendly ways to address waste paint.”

John Polhill, Product Stewardship Specialist – Waste Strategy with SV, reinforced the importance of collaboration,

“The Victorian Government is committed to working with industry to effectively manage problematic products in accordance with Victorian and national waste policy. The work with ABRI and APMF demonstrates the success of industry-government partnerships thusfar.”

The GlobalPSC and several members have been appointed by the Australian Government to a Product Stewardship Advisory Group that provides independent advice to the government on products that could be considered for attention under the Product Stewardship Act. The SCEW work plan operates in conjunction with the Product Stewardship Advisory Group to explore opportunities for management of priority products.

 

British Columbia’s Recycling Handbook

Posted by GlobalPSC at 1:08 pm, March 11th, 2013Comments3

British Columbia’s Recycling Handbook is a collaboration of fifteen stewardship agencies that operate extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs within the province.

All participating stewards contributed to the content  and funding of this publication designed by GlobalPSC Corporate Member Encorp Pacific to provide consumer awareness and convenience of recycling.

This link takes you to the fourth edition of the handbook, issued in December 2012. Over 6,000 hard copies have already been distributed along with hundreds of web downloads, and thousands of views. A direct link to a PDF copy is available here.

A new video on BC’s product stewardship model is also now available below.

How Could Local Governments Miss out on Product Stewardship?

Posted by GlobalPSC at 11:06 am, September 3rd, 2012Comments1

By Russ Martin, Global Product Stewardship Council President

Russ blogs regularly on product stewardship for the Business Environment Network (BEN). This blog originally appeared on BEN and has been reposted with permission of BEN publishers. 

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) and product stewardship have long had as a fundamental purpose the shifting of physical and financial responsibility for products away from local waste management and recycling programs back to producers and consumers.

Some of our colleagues in the U.S., the Product Stewardship Institute, have estimated the potential benefits to local programs of producer responsibility at over U.S. $2 billion. These benefits include actual costs, which would be the direct financial savings to a local government of implementing an EPR program and service benefits, which is the value of the added benefits a municipality would receive if EPR were to take hold. For example, many local governments in the U.S. dry and dispose of latex paint because it is a lower priority than other household hazardous waste products. If they had the money, they would collect it for recycling.

So if benefits are supposed to accrue mainly to local programs, how might local governments miss out on EPR and product stewardship? Simply by not understanding product stewardship, how it’s intended to work or how to make the most of it. Or, they could fail to engage effectively with other stakeholders.

First, some basics. Most consumers want products to be responsibly managed when they reach end-of-life. More product stewardship schemes across a broader range of items are likely.

Businesses will want to leverage existing resources, including local government collections and infrastructure, rather than start new programs completely from scratch. Local governments that engage industry can reduce their infrastructure and consumer education costs. Transparency and accountability of services provided will be an important issue.

Recent discussions with a variety of local government officials have shown that many still don’t seem to understand some of these basics. The idea is not to get grants from the government for collecting additional products. Nor to invite product stewardship organisations to tender for collection / recycling contracts of particular products.  Rather it’s about councils forming partnerships with product stewardship organisations to provide certain services. Strong standards will be necessary, and these will affect expectations and costs for all stakeholders. Collections should be free to consumers, and in some cases this may be regulated as in the new national TV and computer recycling scheme (NB: in Australia).

In addition, the targets for the TV and computer scheme will not necessarily match up to likely volumes of materials available for collection. The first annual recycling target is 30 per cent in 2012–13, increasing progressively each year to reach 80 per cent in 2021–22.

However, we can expect a great deal of collections initially, especially with the digital switchover and a backlog of end-of-life TVs and computers spread across Australia. Then the pendulum is likely to swing back the other way before eventually stabilising in say 5-6 years. As the targets start to really kick in, industry will then be scouring for TVs and computers in order to meet their targets. The characteristics of the products in and materials out of the scheme will vary significantly during this time, which will further complicate planning, implementation and basic commercial viability.

Liable parties under the scheme are paying co-regulatory arrangements to meet their target obligations in a cost-effective way. Once the arrangements meet their liable parties’ targets, recycling above and beyond that point simply represents a cost for which funding from liable parties cannot readily be sought. Yet the scheme’s first collections in the ACT exceeded the arrangement’s annual target for that region in one month.

Public interest and engagement cannot readily be turned on and off like a tap. Industry and local governments will need to collaborate with State and Commonwealth governments on how best to manage consumer expectations while delivering meaningful outcomes.

Consistency and reliability of service to customers is important. Yet, existing co-regulatory arrangements already diverge on whether they will cover the costs for collecting and processing TVs and computers beyond their target volumes. Councils will not be able to charge consumers for TV and computer recycling, then return those products through an approved arrangement.

This means that the cost for any excess collections beyond target volumes would need to be covered by councils, state or federal governments to maintain free collections to the consumer and avoid discouraging an engaged public. This is a transitional, yet very important, issue that will need to be managed carefully as we move towards fuller industry funding of programs.

So, if you’re a local government, how do you go about making the most of product stewardship?

First, know where you stand. What items have the greatest impacts (in terms of toxicity/hazard, volumes and public concern)? What are your costs for managing end-of-life products responsibly (including education, collections, recycling, disposal of residuals, externality costs, insurance and illegal dumping clean-up costs)?

Second, know where others stand and understand their needs. What programs are already in existence? What programs are planned or could potentially be implemented?

Third, actively engage with industries, state governments and other stakeholders. Seek agreement on program details and funding for issues such as collection types, frequency and accessibility for consumers; how best to promote returns and manage community expectations; how to address material quality/contamination; education; risks, roles and responsibilities; cost allocation (and neutrality?); auditing/verification and public reporting.

The local governments that understand these factors are in a much stronger position to truly benefit from product stewardship, especially if product stewardship expands to other items such as paints, pharmaceuticals and other e-waste beyond what we’re already seeing.

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