E-waste lobby demands new laws by 2007

Federal and state govts called on to act

E-waste lobby group, Let's Do IT! has given NSW and Victorian governments until January 1 2007 to mandate computer recycling laws for industry.

The group, founded by a consortium of recycling and environmental advocates last month, will press Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) proposals calling for state and federal governments to mandate IT equipment take-back which, so far according to the group, have fallen on deaf ears.

Group member and Sims Recycling Solutions Victorian manager Rick Wakelin said the federal government should lead the way by providing customs data that would allow computer importers to be tracked.

"The federal government holds the key to making a computer recycling program work [by] providing essential customs data that will let state regulators track computer importers," Wakelin said.

"The computer industry is too fractured to pull agreement together on this issue. If individual companies operate their own schemes, there will be no economies of scale, consumers will be confused and recycling will remain expensive, [which is why] government leadership is overdue."

Sims Recycling Solutions general manager, Peter Netchaef said governments have rejected industry proposals because they do not address historical or orphan equipment - no-name products or computers from manufacturers which have closed down, despite previous promises to include these products.

The group's formation follows a recent Computer Product Stewardship Meeting (CPSM) where computer vendors and the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation discussed the industry's handling of e-waste.

"Some producers want to stick to their own take-back schemes and the CPSM has yet to engage the multitude of small component importers, which make up half the industry," Netchaef said.

The group said the government has not implemented e-recycling laws for the 1.6 million computers disposed of annually, despite five years of lobbying.

The Let's Do IT! alliance includes Total Environment Centre, Sims Recycling Solutions, MRI Australia, Environment Victoria, NSW Local Government Association, TIC Group and the Conservation Council of Western Australia.

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