With over 15 years professional interest in ecodesign and take-back measures, John Gertzakis can be excused for getting a little impatient at the speed with which the government has embraced e-waste recycling. But, as the Executive Director of Product Stewardship Australia (PSA) will tell you, tomorrow’s consumer electronics companies are committed to a sustainable future.
Product Stewardship Australia was created by the Consumer Electronics Supplier’s Association (CESA) to look after national electronics collection, recycling and community education schemes. The body represents the majority of consumer electronics suppliers in Australia. And, as John will tell you, the industry is eager to fulfill its social and environmental responsibilities.
“The federal environment department invited CESA/PSA to develop an industry scheme in 2001, but it’s failed to deliver the enabling regulation that would allow our industry to invest millions in creating a national scheme. It’s a sad situation that the government has acted so slowly, when there is clear community desire and industry commitment.”
The single most important response that John says he’d like to see in Australia, is the development of intelligent regulation that helps the industry take part in efficient take-back and recycling schemes for all our electrical and electronic goods. John says there is no doubt in his mind that smart regulation is the key to achieving a permanent national e-waste recycling scheme.
“We have an unmatched situation in Australia where the consumer electronics industry acknowledges its environmental obligations and is keen to work with other stakeholders. That’s why PSA has proactively collaborated with Environment Victoria and other stakeholders to design a national TV recycling scheme. Australia has no place for old-fashioned industry versus environment arguments. These are yesterday’s scenarios and belong to yesterday’s companies.”
John says ordinary consumers can do extraordinary things to help bring about this change. “Consumers can check with their local council and see whether there is an e-waste service in their municipality. They can also quiz retailers about what recycling services they provide when new TVs are purchased. Also, check with major e-waste recyclers such as Sims, MRI and the TIC Group to see what fee for service e-waste recycling they can offer.”