The NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 provides for the introduction of extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes in NSW. EPR involves producers taking more responsibility for managing the environmental impact of their products throughout their life cycle.
Supporting national initiatives
The NSW Government supports initiatives under the National Waste Policy. Most notably this has included establishment of an Australian framework for product stewardship, which has been a long-standing focus in NSW. The Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act 2011, which provided the first national approach to voluntary and regulated product stewardship schemes, involves industry taking greater responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products, particularly where they become waste.
NSW supports a national approach because many products are sold in national markets and are problematic in all jurisdictions. Each year all jurisdictions provide a product list of problematic wastes for attention under the Product Stewardship Act. Management at a national level can provide consistent action to achieve the product stewardship goals.
National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme
The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme is the first co-regulatory scheme under the Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act 2011. The scheme is regulated under the Act and the Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations 2011.
The scheme aims to boost recycling of televisions and computers and divert them from landfill disposal. The target is to achieve an 80% recycling rate by 2021. The scheme is designed to build on existing recycling services that are already available.
The Australian Packaging Covenant is a voluntary scheme to reduce the environmental impacts of consumer packaging across Australia. Its focus is on sustainable packaging design, recycling of used packaging and reduction of litter from packaging.
The Covenant establishes a collaborative framework for effective life cycle management of consumer packaging and paper products among all sectors of the packaging supply chain, consumers, collectors, re-processors and all spheres of government.
Together with businesses and other governments in Australia, the NSW Government is a signatory to the Covenant and must fulfil certain obligations, which include submission of a current Action Plan and regular reporting against key performance indicators via an Annual Report.
The National Environmental Protection Measure (Used Packaging Materials) 2011 requires all states and territories to provide and enforce regulations to underpin the Covenant and create a level playing field for businesses. This ensures that those who voluntarily participate in the Covenant are not disadvantaged by those that seek to avoid their responsibilities.
In NSW, the Covenant is supported through Part 8 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014.
Under Part 8 of this Regulation, large producers or brand owners with a gross annual income in Australia of more than $5 million have a responsibility to minimise the environmental impact of their packaging. These companies can fulfil this responsibility by either becoming a signatory to, and complying with, the Australian Packaging Covenant or by choosing to be regulated by the EPA in accordance with specific recovery targets and the other reporting requirements set out in the Regulation.
In the case of companies that choose to be regulated by the EPA, the packaging targets are as follows
- 85% recovery of all materials used in packaging products up to and including 30 June 2022
- 100 per cent of new and existing packaging must be reviewed using the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines
A webinar on the obligations to reduce environmental impacts of packaging in NSW was hosted by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation and supported by NSW EPA in November 2020. The webinar covers the national framework and regulatory obligations under which used packaging is managed, and the support available to help members to the Covenant meet their voluntary obligations.