The Battery Implementation Working Group (BIWG) tasked with developing a national handheld battery product stewardship scheme for Australia has today released a discussion paper for consultation as well as a project communique on efforts to date. Consultation on the proposed scheme is open until 31 March.
Australian, state and territory governments have made product stewardship for handheld batteries a national priority and dedicated resources to the development of an appropriate scheme, including project funding and the establishment of the BIWG, with bipartisan support.
The discussion paper outlines a proposed voluntary, industry-led national Battery Product Stewardship Scheme (Scheme) for Australia, along with a number of options for the operation of the Scheme. The proposed Scheme would apply to all handheld batteries less than 5 kg, with the exception of embedded batteries, and comprise the following elements:
- A Battery Stewardship Agreement that would provide a collective written commitment between stewards for developing, funding and implementing the Scheme.
- A 5-year Strategic Plan to be developed jointly by the producer responsibility organisation (PRO) and stewards that would provide more detail for how the PRO and stewards will implement the Scheme in accordance with the Agreement.
- Transparent annual reporting of performance against the Strategic Plan.
- Importers seeking to meet the objectives of the Agreement through their own arrangement rather than through an industry-wide PRO would be expected to deliver a comparable Strategic Plan and annual reports to Stewards under the Agreement.
As a voluntary, industry-led national approach, the proposed Scheme is open to a broad range of stakeholders and has the benefits of simplicity of design, reduced barriers to participation and ease of understanding. The proposed Scheme would provide more immediate action with lower costs and greater certainty compared to immediate pursuit of a co-regulatory approach. Stakeholders that are already implementing collection programs or are likely to do so in the near future can be better recognised for their early action. A voluntary approach provides the flexibility to modify and improve the Scheme in order to improve performance and reduce costs, especially in the first few years of implementation.
It is envisaged that importers of handheld batteries would have primary financial responsibility for funding the Scheme, although it is recognised that other parties may make additional direct or in-kind contributions. Other parties may have roles as stewards, for example, by providing collection facilities at point-of-sale or at local council waste management sites. Options considered are provided in the discussion paper.
The Global Product Stewardship Council and GlobalPSC members have been active throughout the process:
GlobalPSC CEO Russ Martin serves as the Independent Chair of the BIWG.
- The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection leads the development of the Scheme and provides Secretariat support for the BIWG.
- Other BIWG members include the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Sustainability Victoria (SV), Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (represented by GlobalPSC Executive Committee member and Treasurer Rose Read) and Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI, represented by ABRI CEO Helen Lewis of Helen Lewis Research).
- The GlobalPSC facilitated a battery stakeholder workshop in August 2013.
- The GlobalPSC helped inform discussions through our November 2013 priority product stewardship workshop with key international speakers, most of whom are GlobalPSC members.
- Sustainable Resource Use, with sub-contractor Perchards SagisEPR (led by GlobalPSC Vice-President David Perchard), has been selected through a competitive tender and evaluation process to undertake work on a battery stocks and flows and market share analysis.