Federal and state governments have scuttled a proposal from the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) on how to deal with Australia's ever growing mountain of e-waste. But the association claims there is life in the concept yet.
The voluntary recycling scheme was tabled at a recent meeting of environment ministers, but rejected on the grounds of lack of industry support. General manager of strategy and policy services, James McAdam, said the absence of many importers and distributors showing their support had stymied its adoption.
"We had a lot of big brands involved but not really importers or whitebox," he said. "It was on our initiative that we brought this 40 per cent to the table, but the government hasn't tried to engage the rest at all." McAdam denied relying on AIIA member support had been the proposal's downfall.
"This is about getting a workable, voluntary proposal going," he said. "It's unsurprising we've taken a leadership role through our members, but the government also bears some responsibility to engage with those who aren't involved at the moment."
Optima chairman and managing director, Cornel Ung, said the NSW government has been working with businesses outside the AIIA's reach.
He said the assembler had been asked to work on a product stewardship agreement, separate to the AIIA proposal, in the middle of the year. Optima is not an AIIA member. Ung claimed the NSW government had held at least three meeting with the environment minister.
"They're only preliminary meetings so far, but they're trying to put an act together," he said.
McAdam said importers and distributors were the narrowest point of entry into the country for technology, and the channel could play a major part in helping deal with e-waste if it got involved.
"I urge the channel to engage with AIIA and also the environment departments to talk about this," he said. "We'll also talk to government again about what their plans are and we will continue to encourage them to engage companies outside the process."
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 8.7 million computers have already been thrown away by businesses and end users to date.