Planning for national solar panel product stewardship underway

Research for a national product stewardship program for photovoltaic systems, which include solar panels, is underway.

Research for a national product stewardship program for photovoltaic systems, which include solar panels, is underway.

Sustainability Victoria has appointed product stewardship consultant Equilibrium to analyse and assess potential options for a national product stewardship to help manage end of life products.

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Photovoltaic (PV) panels and associated products and equipment have been identified as a rapidly growing e-waste stream in the future. For the project, “PV systems” have neem defined to include panels and PV system accessories such as inverter equipment and energy storage systems.

Equilibrium has opened an online survey to gather input and information form manufacturers, installers, project developers, the energy industry, and peak bodies.

The information gathered by the survey along with other evidence gathered will support the assessment of potential options.

Organisations and individuals interested in the project can complete the survey here.

Vinyl Council awards 17 companies for stewardship excellence

The Vinyl Council of Australia has awarded 17 companies that achieved PVC Stewardship Excellence this year.

Companies who have achieved perfect scores in compliance with a set of stringent criteria related to the production and supply of vinyl related products are eligible for the award.

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The Australian PVC Stewardship Program began in 2002 to educate and guide the local vinyl industry to become stewards of their products throughout the entire life cycle of their products.

It binds signatories to continuous improvement in the environmental footprint of their products, whether they manufacture locally or overseas.

Importers and distributors of finished products are required to engage with their entire supply chain overseas to ensure they are compliant to the program.

Signatories are required to report annually against the criteria and each company’s performance is measured and benchmarked against the industry.

The stewardship commitments and targets related to best practice manufacturing, including raw material sourcing, safe and sustainable use of additives, energy and greenhouse gas emissions of PVC product manufacturers, resource efficiency, and transparency and engagement.

The winners of the 2017 Excellence in PVC Stewardship Awards include:

  • Australian Plastic Profiles
  • Australian Vinyls Corporation
  • Baxter Healthcare
  • Chemiplas Australia
  • Chemson Pacific
  • Formosa Plastics Corporation, Taiwan
  • Iplex Pipelines Australia
  • Pipemakers
  • Primaplas Australia
  • PT Asahimas Chemical, Indonesia
  • RBM Plastics Extrusions (new signatory in 2017)
  • Serge Ferrari (new signatory in 2017)
  • Sun Ace Australia
  • Speciality Polymers and Chemicals
  • Tarkett Australia
  • Techplas Extrusions
  • Vinidex

The Vinyl Council’s PVC Stewardship Manager Laveen Dhillon said all 17 companies have excelled, with 10 of this year’s award recipients receiving the award for the award for the first time, including two signatories that had joined the program in 2017.

“These signatories worked with the Vinyl Council to map out their entire supply chain so as to address relevant program commitments. All the Award recipients should be recognised as industry leaders who have worked in collaboration with their supply chains to meet and exceed program goals” Ms Dhillon said.

“Transparency through the supply chain is essential to improve efficiency, reduce impact and track the practices of suppliers. One signatory reported finding that communication and credibility among its suppliers has improved each year, as it has repeatedly requested stewardship information. We hope transparency and engagement continues to improve in this way.”

Paintback opens landmark amount of collection sites

The Paintback product stewardship scheme has opened its 100th collection site as 10 new sites are launched across Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

A 15 cent a litre levy on paint products helps support the scheme, which aims to reduce the amount of pain and containers which end up in landfills.

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Paintback repurposes valuable materials into recycled packaging, alternative energy fuel and water resources. It also helps fund research on new methods of recycling unwanted paint waste.

The scheme is backed by companies such as Dulux, Taubmans, Haymes, Resene, Rust-Oleum and Wattyl, and accounts for more than 95 per cent of all architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia.

“We now have 34 sites in Queensland and 30 sites in Victoria where there’s very strong support for the concept.” Ms Gomez said.

Paintback Chief Executive Officer Karen Gomez said Australians throw away 15 million kilograms of unused paint with containers every year

“Since we began a little over two years ago, we’ve been able to collect in excess of 6 million kilograms for safe disposal,” she said.

Paintback accepts a range of decorative and architectural paints, stains and varnishes secured in their original containers op up to 20 litres.

JAX Tyres commits to TSA Accreditation

Tyre retailer JAX Tyres has gained accreditation from Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), which has increased the number of TSA accredited retailers to more than 1500.

By gaining accreditation, JAX Tyres has committed to ensuring any end of life tyres they dispose of across its 84-store network are managed within the TSA scheme and support the public education and market development methods of TSA.

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It joins retailers such as Beaurepaires, Bob Jane T-Marts, Bridgestone Service Centres and Bridgestone Select stores, K Mart Tyre & Auto Service, Goodyear Auto Centres, Tyres & More, Tyrepower, TyrePlus and selected Continental and independent retail outlets in achieving TSA Accreditation.

Australia currently generates more than 56 million end-of-life tyres each year. TSA is heavily involved in tyre retail, collection, recycling and research and development of tyre-derived products.

TSA Chief Executive Officer Dale Gilson said there were several consumer options available within the scheme.

“The JAX Tyres decision to join the nationwide list of accredited retailers is both a welcome development and an indication that the Australian tyre retail sector is comprehensively behind the efforts to ensure we deal with the environmental challenge of end-of-life tyres,” Mr Gilson said.

“For consumers, the addition of JAX Tyres adds further comfort that their chosen tyre retailer is committed to doing the right thing for our environment and the development of a viable future circular economy.”

JAX Quickfit Chief Executive Officer Jeff Board said that becoming a part of the TSA accreditation scheme was a step in the direction of ensuring all of its future operations were environmentally sustainable.

“We have continually reviewed operations to ensure the most environmentally sensitive processes and policies possible and we look forward to working with TSA on further addressing the challenge of managing the Australian waste tyre challenge,” Mr Board said.

Image credit: Tyre Stewardship Australia

Federal Government to review Product Stewardship

The Federal Government has announced it will commence a review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, which helps to reduce the environmental and health impacts of products.

The Act does this by encouraging industries to improve the design and manufacture of their products, and to collect valuable or harmful materials for reuse or responsible disposal.

This is the first review of the Act since it commenced in 2011, and the Department of Environment and Energy will actively seek input from industry, governments and the general public to ensure the Act continues to be effective and is delivering the best outcomes for business and the environment.

Products under consideration for this financial year, include batteries, photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, used oil bottles and plastic microbeads.

The Act currently supports the successful National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NCTRS) which has recycled approximately 184,500 tonnes of electronic waste since 2012.

The review will provide an important opportunity to continue to update and improve the NTCRS, which was updated following an operational review in 2014-15, including the possibility to include other electronic products.

The Act also provides accreditation for industry-led voluntary arrangements such as MobileMuster which is the only industry-led mobile phone recycling program in the world that has collected and recycled more than 10 million handsets since 1998.

The Act also establishes the Minister’s Product List, which is updated annually and informs the community and industry of those products being considered for possible accreditation or regulation under the Act.

The review will also examine the adequacy of services provided by industry to remote and regional communities and the way in which exports of working computers for reuse in other countries is accounted for and reported under the scheme.

The will commence immediately and is scheduled to conclude in the first half of 2018.

Pictured: Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg