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MRI E-cycle Solutions calls for product stewardship expansion

Australian-owned e-waste recycling company MRI E-cycle Solutions has called for all types of e-waste with a plug or a battery to be included under the Product Stewardship Act.

The news follows the meeting of Environment Ministers commitment to fast track the development of new product stewardship schemes for solar panels and batteries. The federal government is also reviewing the Product Stewardship Act 2011, with the findings and recommendations to be provided to Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg by mid-2018.

MRI E-cycle Solutions said in a statement that it was eager to see regulatory reform across all states and territories that facilitates and encourages electronics and battery reuse. It said it hopes to see policies that maximise resource recovery and help local government manage e-waste without being economically penalised.

The company argued that it believes the upcoming Victorian e-waste ban presents an opportunity to synchronise the state ban with an expanded national electronics stewardship scheme. The Victorian Government’s e-waste to landfill ban is expected to commence on 1 July, 2019.

MRI E-cycle Solutions said in its statement that the new start date of 1 July 2019 will better prepare the community and local councils through public education and infrastructure upgrades.

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The statement said that while Australia has made significant steps through the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) and voluntary programs like MobileMuster, the take-back, and recycling, of many other categories of electrical and electronic goods, have gone unfunded due to a lack of stewardship schemes. It noted that this means that e-waste still continues to flood into landfills at the cost of local government and the community.

“It is essential that the NTCRS be expanded to include the same types of electronic products that will be covered under Victoria’s landfill ban to avoid shifting the cost of their recovery and recycling from producers and retailers to local councils,” the company said.

MRI E-cycle Solutions Managing Director Will LeMessurier said that Victoria’s definition of e-waste was the most appropriate way to better manage the recovery, reuse and recycling of absolute electrical goods. However, he noted that without a national electronics stewardship scheme, local governments would feel the brunt of the cost.

“There are still many categories of e-waste that fall outside the NTCRS, including mobiles, photovoltaic solar panels and batteries that will go straight to landfill in the absence of a comprehensive national electronics stewardship scheme to collect, reuse and recycle anything with a plug or a battery,” he said.

MRI E-cycle Solutions in its statement also argued that a mismatch between Victoria’s comprehensive definition of e-waste and the federal regulations will also create confusion for councils and the public as to what can be recycled.

“Expanding industry funded co-regulated and/or voluntary programs under the Product Stewardship Act to cover all types of e-waste will significantly improve economies of scale for industrial processing and create new employment opportunities.”

“It will also contribute to higher recycling rates nationwide and ensure the cost burden is shared equitably among producers, retailers, consumers and local government. Australia will then truly have a best practice model to the envy of other countries battling the challenge of e-waste.”