Small Electrical Products Scheme misses target


Charitable Recycling Australia is calling for more consultation and revised targets, as part of a submission to the National Government’s plan to regulate small electrical products.

Omer Soker, Chief Executive Officer, Charitable Recycling Australia, said while the organisation commends the need for regulation, more consideration must be given to the proposed scheme target, recovery target and reuse obligations.

He’s called on the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) to consult more with the charitable reuse sector to ensure the best outcomes environmentally, economically and socially for Australia.

“Higher order interventions like reuse are critical to Australia’s transition to a Circular Economy by 2030 and need to be formally recognised and targeted in all relevant Australian Government policies including Product Stewardship Scheme initiatives as well as the National Waste Policy Action Plan,” Soker said.

“The Small Electricals Regulation is a great opportunity for the Australian Government to step up and begin working higher up the waste hierarchy.”

Soker said the scheme’s proposed prime objective and overall singular target seems to be just recycling but as a genuine product stewardship approach, the scheme should not be limited in this way.

He said product stewardship is not intended to be a policy measure and tool only for waste management, so the scheme target should reflect the range of outcomes to be encouraged, incentivised and rewarded including design for sustainability, efficient manufacturing, material selection and life extension and reuse.

“Reuse needs to be an integral part of the scheme including formal reuse targets,” he said.

Secondly, the proposed recovery target and obligations are again focused only on end-of-life and waste management, not the whole lifecycle and environmental impacts of the product.

And the proposed inclusion of reuse is only as an obligation and not as a formal target. Soker said Charitable Recycling Australia  recommends that reuse needs to be considered as a higher order product stewardship target in the scheme.

“Reuse sits higher in the waste hierarchy and achieves better environmental and social outcomes than material recovery and recycling,” Soker said.

“In the absence of specific targets for reuse, it is highly likely that there will be a reduction in the current rate of product reuse as the products will be pursued for recycling within the scheme in order for liable parties to meet their recycling targets and obligations.

“In short, without reuse as a formal target, there is a likelihood for a perverse outcome where fewer items are reused, which would be a backward step.”

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