Regulation for small electrical products and solar panel waste open for public feedback

By Tamanna Wadhwani  July 5th, 2023

To reduce Australia’s growing electronic waste stream, the government has released a discussion paper outlining its plan to regulate small electrical products and solar panel waste and is seeking public feedback.

The federal government plans to develop a new product stewardship scheme for small electrical and electronic equipment (SEEE) and solar photovoltaic waste. They have released a discussion paper and are seeking public consultation until July 23 to ensure any new regulation caters to businesses, consumers and the environment. 

Australians produced 20 kg of e-waste each on average in 2019, far greater than the global average of 7 kg per person. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream worldwide and is rapidly increasing in Australia. Some projections expect quantities of e-waste to increase by 30% by 2030, from 511,000 tonnes in 2019 to 657,000 tonnes.  

Despite the quantities being generated, Australia recovers just a third of all materials from e-waste, translating to a loss of $430 million worth of materials to landfill in 2019. 

Through this scheme, the government aims to reduce harmful materials found in electronic waste from going to landfill, increase their recovery rates and reusability and make recycling services more accessible and efficient. Being a product stewardship scheme, the regulation will require businesses involved in the manufacturing, supplying and disposing of these products to take greater responsibility for their end-of-life. 

The proposed scheme includes SEEE such as screens, monitors, IT and telecommunications equipment, toasters, kettles, microwaves, cameras and other small products. It would also include waste from solar panels, which is the fastest-growing e-waste stream in Australia. These products contain precious metals like gold, copper, lithium and nickel that can be recycled and repurposed to reduce the demand for virgin resources. 

The discussion paper from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water has been developed in consultation with recyclers, peak bodies, regulators, industry stakeholders and state and territory governments.  

To have your say in this critical step in Australia’s e-waste circular economy transition, give your feedback on the discussion paper by completing a survey open till 23 July 2023.  

You can also register for a Q and A information session held on 11 July 2023. 

Tamanna Wadhwani

Tamanna moved from India to Australia to pursue a degree in environmental science and conservation biology. After learning about the concept of a circular economy in 2020, she worked with various organisations in this sector and is interested in solving complex climate change and waste management problems. She loves to communicate with people about all things sustainability or animals. Outside of work, Tamanna is a budding hip hop dancer who also loves travelling, cat cuddles and reading.

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