Four new schemes join a range of organisations represented at the launch of the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence at Parliament House on Monday night.
In just one of the newly funded schemes, a national pilot will see around 220 collection sites take in 200 tonnes of golf clubs, 10,000 basket balls and 700,000 tennis balls – usually destined for bins and landfill.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the new schemes are a “slam dunk” for the government, which will invest an additional $4 million in product stewardship funding.
“We think that our product stewardship programs are really ace, and that is why we have now funded 19 projects to the tune of $14.6 million and established the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence,” she said.
“This additional funding means we can create greater capacity in the recycling sector and with that, we will see more brands taking greater responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts of their products.”
Other schemes will see agriculture and mining tyres recycled into new products; one million sport shoes diverted from landfill and recycled into products like rubber sports and anti-fatigue matting, and commercial furniture diverted from landfill.
“Whether you are dropping off an old set of tyres, mobile phone or coffee cup, Australians should be confident that their end-of-life products are going to live their best second or even third life,” Ley added.
The Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence aims for the wide-scale adoption of product and material stewardship principles by businesses to reduce waste generation and create positive environmental and social outcomes.
Centre of Excellence Director Rose Read said the Federal Government was showing “immense leadership” in fostering and supporting product stewardship and supporting businesses to thrive and do more.
“By strengthening product stewardship legislation in the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, providing $20 million through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund, and through the enthusiasm from Minister Ley and Assistant Minister Evans, businesses are stepping up” she said.
According to Read, the Centre’s role will be to support and mentor businesses to become better product stewards by providing practical guidance, decision-making tools, training and development opportunities such as masterclasses for executives, webinars and one on one mentoring.
“The Centre will also work closely with existing product stewardship schemes and initiatives, to help them address free rider issues, logistics challenges, generate greater consumer engagement and foster best practice,” she said.
“We will be establishing a product stewardship network for businesses, government, product stewardship organisations, not-for-profit entities and research institutions to share knowledge, learnings and experiences to foster best practice, help resolve common issues and inform the Centre’s research projects.”
The Centre will also be working closely with and providing objective and independent advice to the Federal Government and all jurisdictions on the effectiveness of product stewardship across Australia and priority areas for action.
“Product stewardship in Australia has so far reduced the environmental and human health impacts of machine lubricant oils, televisions and computers, mobile phones and accessories, agriculture and veterinary chemical containers, paint, tyres, microbeads and beverage containers,” Read said.
“However, there is still a lot to be done in many other product classes such as clothing, plastic products and packaging in agriculture and construction, furniture, carpets, mattresses, lighting, photovoltaic systems, consumer packaging, white goods, toys, batteries, power tools and outdoor equipment.”
Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans added that the Centre will go beyond just providing advice to industry, and encourage product stewardship schemes to seek voluntary accreditation under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020.
“On Monday night we welcomed an additional two schemes to join Mobile Muster as voluntarily accredited under the Federal Government’s world leading waste export ban: Tyre Stewardship Australia and Big Bag Recovery,” he said.
Evans added that voluntary accreditation demonstrates industry’s commitment to sustainability and gives the public confidence that industry is working to reduce any negative impact of their products.
“In the near future, consumers will be able to look out for the Federal Government tick of approval for accredited product stewardship schemes on packaging and products,” he said.
“We want all the big players and manufacturers to see product stewardship schemes as a core part of their business and a key corporate social responsibility metric.”