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"Historic": national e-waste program for 2011

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Policy

Australia's environment ministers have today endorsed a new national waste policy, which will establish a landmark scheme for recycling televisions and computers.

At today's meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council in Perth, the ministers set out the first-ever framework to address resource recovery and waste management on a national level.

Under the new policy, which is targeting the mounting problem of e-waste as the first area for action, by 2011 householders will be able to drop off used computers and television sets for recycling, free of charge.

In 2007-08, 16.8 million televisions, computers and computer products reached their end of life, with 84 per cent sent to landfill. Only 10 per cent were recycled.

"If Australia were to continue without any form of product stewardship scheme, projections suggest that approximately 44 million televisions and computers would be discarded in 2028, " said Environment Minister Peter Garrett, in a statement announcing the national waste policy.

"Under the new product stewardship scheme, 80 per cent of all TVs and computers are expected to be recycled by 2021.''

The new waste policy essentially outlines Government support for what will be an industry-led e-waste collection and recycling scheme, which will see manufacturers and importers taking responsibility for their goods from cradle to grave.

For industry and community organisations that voluntarily run computer and television take-back and recycling schemes, the Government will provide an accreditation scheme so that the community can be sure what they recycle through those programs will be reused or recycled in an ethical and environment-safe way.

For non-participants in the scheme, the Government will work to ensure their products and actions comply with the same standards as voluntary participants in the scheme, ensuring that "free-riders" are unable to gain a financial advantage over those companies that willingly contribute to recycling their own products.

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