Media Releases | 30th Aug, 2006

Producer take-back: the new recycling push comes to Melbourne

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

A growing world-wide push to make manufacturers take responsibility for their old products – instead of them being dumped in landfill – is coming to Melbourne.

A team of experts from North America will meet privately with local government delegates from across Victoria, and will hold a public meeting in Melbourne on September 15.

The tour by the Product Policy Institute has been organised by Environment Victoria, the leading environment group in Victoria, to highlight a growing movement around the world to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws.

EPR laws aim to make manufacturers take responsibility for their out-of-date products and improve design to make recycling easier – particularly of electronic appliances which are often designed to become obsolete after short time periods.

In Victoria local governments, and ratepayers, currently pay to collect, recycle or dump products such as TVs and computers.

Environment Victoria’s Zero Waste Campaign Director Jenny Henty said an estimated 200,000 computers and 66,000 TVs end up in Victorian landfill each year.

“For too long, computers and TVs have been dumped, left to leach dangerous chemicals into the environment,” Ms Henty said.
“For too long, local governments and local ratepayers have been forced to foot the bill and take the risks associated with recycling programs.

“It’s time manufacturers take some responsibility for the waste they produce, particularly products which contain toxic elements and are designed to become obsolete in the blink of an eye.’’

Ms Henty said government intervention was needed to ensure millions more computers, TVs and mobile phones are not sent to the rubbish tip.
“With support from governments, a user-friendly return systems for unwanted products could soon be a reality. The next step is to make manufacturers responsible for take-back, re-use and recycling rather than have appliances ending up on the scrap-heap”

Ms Henty said Australia already runs a successful mandatory extended producer responsibility scheme for engine oil, and newspaper recycling is flourishing because publishers guarantee to buy-back used newsprint and magazines from collectors.

International examples of Extended Producer Responsibility initiatives include:
European Union:

  • Car makers subject to mandatory takeback and recycling programs to ensure car parts are re-used where possible or recycled rather than dumped;
  • Producers of electrical and electronic equipment must fund the collection, treatment and recovery and disposal of unwanted products


  • Producers of TVs, refrigerators, washing machines and airconditioners are required to take back and reuse or recycling obsolete products.

North America:

  • Canada’s British Columbia has just moved to a producer-managed tyre-recycling program, taking over from a government-run system.
  • Container deposit return programs – for bottles – are run by industry in 10 US states

The touring North American experts are:

  • Helen Spiegelman – co-founder and president of the Product Policy Institute. She worked for almost a decade in Canada building community support for EPR laws in British Columbia that are the most advanced in North America.
  • Bill Sheehan – co-founder and director of the Product Policy Institute. Bill founded and led the GrassRoots Recycling Network; helped launch a global movement for Zero Waste and ran successful consumer campaigns targeting Coca-Cola and Dell.
  • Sego Jackson – Product Policy Institute board member. He runs an environmental consultancy building partnerships with business to solve environmental challenges. His work has covered the electronics, pharmaceuticals, office equipment and toxic waste industries.

They will meet with local government representatives on Thursday, 14 September.

The public forum Local Solutions to Product Waste will be held 6.00pm – 7.30pm Friday, 15 September, Ground Floor, 60 Leicester St, Carlton. Cost: $10 includes refreshments.