Following confirmation that the Morrison Government’s cornerstone waste project – the National Recycling Investment Fund – was only established this week, we can now add the woefully late review of the Product Stewardship Act to the pile of dormant waste promises made by the Liberals.
Announced by then environment Minister Josh Frydenburg on 10 March 2017, the review was meant to examine the effectiveness of the legislation and recommend areas for improvement.
The Minister promised the review would be completed by mid-2018. We’re still waiting.
Introduced by the Gillard Government in 2011, the Product Stewardship Act was a major step forward in developing a regulatory framework for responsible waste management in partnership with industry. This legislation acknowledged that manufacturers, sellers, and consumers all have a role to play in reducing the environmental impacts of waste creation.
But there is more to be done.
The circumstances surrounding the operations of the waste industry have changed significantly over the past eight years and the legislation that guides the way producers are responsible for the waste outcomes of their products needs to keep up.
When talking about the timeline following theProduct Stewardship Act’s implementation Rose Read, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council told Waste Management Review:
“Fortunately, in 2011 the Federal Government took the lead, stepped up and introduced the Product Stewardship Act, which is a robust piece of legislation that provides a framework for government and industry to reduce the impacts of products on the environment and society.
Unfortunately, though, the impetus government for smart, cost effective regulation to create a level playing field for producers was short lived. As eight years on all we have is a suite of poor performing, partly industry funded, voluntary schemes for tyres, paint, printer cartridges, and mattresses.”
The Government promised the review would be completed by mid-2018. Yet under the leadership of three different Liberal environment ministers, this important direction-setting work continues to drag on. Just as it took 7 months for the government to be finally prodded into its gimmick of repackaging CEFC monies in the form of the Recycling Investment Fund, so the government drags it heels on a key review that is more than a year late.
If Scott Morrison wants the Australian people to take him seriously he needs to deliver less packaging and more substance, fewer claims and more haste, in addressing Australia’s waste crisis.
It is past time to deliver the review into product stewardship and take meaningful action to address the market failure at the heart of Australia’s waste crisis.