Panasonic has begun introducing Energy Star rating labels on its televisions and reiterated the call for a government mandated national recycling scheme.
The government will introduce mandatory Energy Star labelling for televisions next year and invited industry to participate in a voluntary scheme to help fast-track the move to inform consumers of the energy efficiency of every television on sale in Australia.
Panasonic’s first Energy Star rated model will be the 26-inch Viera LCD model that will appear in stores in December with a rating of three stars. The company said it will soon label all new Viera plasma and LCD televisions as they are released to the market.
Panasonic managing director, Steve Rust, said that for manufacturers this meant they would have to apply the government’s formula to test a product’s power consumption, create the label and apply it.
“And, of course, the label has to be accurate, if you misrepresent you will be in big strife,” he said.
Panasonic provides its products directly to retailers, and will work with them to ensure the labels are applied to all units on display for sale.
“At the moment we’re looking at whether we have it done at the warehouse or in store, but eventually it will all be done at the factory,” he said.
According to Rust, Panasonic has removed hazardous materials from all of its televisions and regarded power reduction as a major R&D objective in the design of new products for several years now.
“[Removing hazardous materials] is one we’ve imposed on ourselves, it isn’t regulated in Australia and many of our competitors haven’t removed hazardous materials,” he said.
Rust claimed Energy Star ratings will see consumers vote with their wallets for more eco-friendly goods, a force that will motivate manufacturers to lower power consumption and hazardous materials within their products.
He said Panasonic’s most sophisticated recycling operations occurred in Japan, where consumers simply rang a number and had their old products taken away to the company’s recycling plant.
Technicians at the recycling plant are also presented with designs for new products so they can suggest design modifications to make the product easier and cheaper to dismantle, with less hazardous materials.
“We’re not looking at doing that [in Australia] right now because of the high cost, but what we are doing through an industry association called Products Stewardship of Australia (PSA) is lobbying the government to introduce a national recycling scheme,” Rust said.
“It’s too expensive for one manufacturer to go it alone, they end up having to carry a high-cost burden, and if our competitors aren’t doing it we’re at a disadvantage.
“So we’re saying to the government through PSA and directly ourselves, to look at a way of introducing a national scheme... we really need the government to mandate that all products need to be recycled.
“The Minister for Environment, Heritage and The Arts, Peter Garrett, recently announced he had asked his department to investigate the potential for a national recycling scheme and we are fully behind that.”
Australia recently launched its first automated recycling plant for e-waste which will salvage up to 20,000 tonnes of IT equipment from landfill, but the country is at risk of falling behind OECD recycling standards after environment minister Peter Garrett refused to mandate a national e-waste policy.