Australian federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revived plans to slug consumers with charges to cover the cost of recycling computers, government officials have revealed. recycling levy

An advance disposal fee would be among a range of measures

Australian IT reports that the Department of Environment and Water has confirmed that an advance disposal fee would be among a range of measures that state and federal environment authorities would consider.

The department confirmed that Mr Turnbull directed it to investigate ways to recover costs of recycling computers and report its findings to the Environment Protection and Heritage Council later this year.

The council, which comprises state and territory environment ministers, is expected to meet to consider new regulations in November.

Roz Hall, a senior civil servant with the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, said a levy and an advance disposal fee were among a range of measures within the investigation‘‘s scope.

“If the commonwealth chose to put the levy on, it would be a very simple way of dealing with a whole lot of end-of-life products,” she said.

Environment and Water‘‘s statements were at odds with advice given to the information technology industry‘‘s peak body, which was knocked back when it put forward a proposal for a voluntary levy-based scheme last November.

Australian Information Industry Association strategy and policy general manager James McAdam said: “The very clear understanding we‘‘ve had from officials over a number of meetings is that there was no appetite for an advance-fee recycling scheme.”

Analysts predict that two-thirds of the estimated 870 million PCs made worldwide in the next five years will end up as landfill, but attempts by government to establish consensus on how to tackle the problem in Australia have been at a standstill for more than a year.

Views on how to handle computer recycling vary widely, and tackling orphaned products and waste from small white-box computer vendors has presented a major stumbling block to progress.

Dell, which has been running its own recycling scheme for six months, says manufacturers should take responsibility for recycling on an individual basis. Dell spokesman Paul McKeon said the top five manufacturers accounted for about 50 per cent of the sales but only about 20 per cent of historical PC waste. “As you‘‘d imagine, whoever is the market leader changes over a period of time,” he said.

The AIIA is opposed to regulations that would require an advance disposal fee.

Last November the AIIA proposed a scheme based on a voluntary levy that distributed costs for computer recycling based on market share. The council rejected the scheme, citing lack of industry consensus.

“The amount of equipment sold far outstrips the amount of equipment that is returned for recycling and therefore a large amount of surplus accumulates, which just sits and has to be managed by bureaucracy,” Mr McAdam said.

Gerard van Rijswijk, who recently wrote reports on computer waste management for the AIIA, said that consumer computer waste did not present a major threat to the environment.

“There hasn‘‘t been any attempt to look at whether there‘‘s an actual risk associated with disposing of these items in landfill,” he said.


Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #29-2007-July 20, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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