Vendors have thrown their support behind the Environmental Protection Heritage Council’s (EPHC) national e-waste management program but admit more details are needed to understand its full cost and requirements.
Announced last week, the program will be based on a consistent policy regulating electronic products disposal in Australia including computers, monitors and TVs. The policy is expected to come into effect in 2011 and all manufacturers and importers of electronic equipment will be required to join a Government-accredited Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO).
Express Data productivity and training manager, Kellie Winning, expected vendors would leverage distributors’ expertise in logistics to fulfil the requirements of the new legislation.
“I have a couple of vendors who are interested in take-back programs and have asked us to help them,” she said. “I see Express Data acting as the middle man to help as a logistics centre and value-add for vendor and reseller partners.”
In addition to the environmental benefits, such a scheme would result in cost savings for vendors, sustainability manager for Byteback participant Fuji Xerox, Amanda Keogh, said.
She highlighted the vendor’s Eco-Manufacturing Centre in Sydney as an example of possible savings. The centre has already remanufactured 250,000 parts and sub-assemblies annually to a ‘new’ quality, equating to a $6 million cost saving in the 2008/2009 financial year compared to sourcing and importing new parts.
However, some organisations will potentially lose out as new compliance regulations are built into the program.
“Vendors not already collecting e-waste will be hit with a cost,” Keogh said. “A reverse logistics process needs to be set-up to remove the equipment.”
Product Stewardship founding member, Panasonic, was likewise impressed with the EPHC’s announcement, claiming it was long overdue. Product Stewardship is a non-profit industry organisation with a consumer electronics focus, aimed at helping recover and recycle electronic and electrical products in an environmentally sound manner. Similarly to the Australian Information Industry Association, it has been lobbying the Government for a national e-waste scheme.
Panasonic Australia managing director, Steve Rust, said a national program would prevent organisations from bypassing responsibility by manipulating a state-by-state system. It also reduces costs for all involved by allowing large contracts with recyclers to be formed, delivering favourable economies of scale.
Sony national technical services manager, Stuart Clark, was hoping PRO-holding organisations will collaborate for the removal of waste.
Consumer electronics and IT will be treated as separate concerns when it comes to earning PRO status, but as the finer details of the program are sorted through, collaboration will help differing organisations work together where necessary, Clark said.
“There will need to be a huge communication effort from the industry targeting at consumers and our retail partners to help them understand their roles to play in the scheme,” he added.
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