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Computers targeted first in e-waste scheme

by Staff Writers •
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Last week, the nation's environment ministers endorsed a new National Waste Policy Statement, with important implications for ICT industry and government purchasing.

The National Waste Policy Statement (page 10) commits all governments to take account of sustainable procurement principles when assessing value for money in government purchasing. In addition, governments will each deliver regular reports on the uptake of sustainable procurement.

According to Australian Public Sector Workforce Statistics (State of the Service Report), the total number of "ongoing staff" in the APS as at 30 June 2008 was 160 000. Agencies depreciate their hardware generally on three and sometimes four year cycles, and many seek to retire approximately a third to a quarter of their fleet each year. This implies that the Federal Government alone is disposing of somewhere between forty and fifty thousand hardware items per annum.

The National Waste Policy is the first such national framework, documenting a ten-year vision for resource recovery and waste management.

The first areas of waste targeted for action will be computers and televisions, with a national collection and recycling scheme up and running in or before 2011, said Minister Peter Garrett in a statement.

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.

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

The Minister said that if Australia was to continue without any form of product stewardship scheme, projections suggest that approximately 44 million televisions and computers would be discarded in 2028.

"This is a major development in one of our fastest growing areas of waste which sees for the first time computer and television manufacturers taking national responsibility for managing e-waste, and it will be done at minimal cost to consumers," said Mr Garrett.

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