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Australia looking to learn from global e-scrap pioneers

Australia – E-scrap is a global issue that shows no sign of abating – with IT hardware spending alone forecast to rise by around 60% between 2009 and 2018, states a new report from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The Australian researchers picked out ‘a select group of advanced economies’ in order to develop insights that can be applied to the domestic market. Scandinavian and northern European countries were found to offer good policies and initiatives to tackle the e-scrap issue.

Together with Japan, these countries are hailed as leaders in potentially transferable e-scrap solutions that could help Australia – a country whose e-scrap management sector has made notable progress over the last couple of years but is still ‘in its infancy’.

The report details Japan’s Home Appliance Recycling Law covering larger items such as televisions, refrigerators, air-conditioners and washing machines, of which approximately 12.7 million units were collected in the 2013 financial year. Consumers are very much involved with recycling and have grown accustomed to paying recycling fees, it is pointed out.

As for Australia, the first co-regulatory product stewardship initiative was the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, which was established in 2011 and called for the technology industry to pay for recycling 30% of televisions and computers in 2012-13, rising to 80% by 2021-22. The recycling target will increase gradually until the 80% level is achieved.

Greater focus on ‘shared responsibility’ is required in Australia such that all parties play a critical role in the e-scrap debate, comments economist and report author John Ferguson. ‘Rapid technological change will not only increase demand for current electronics and equipment but also result in products that do not currently exist,’ he says.

‘Some of the consumer electronics in use today – like smart phones and tablets – had not been invented when the first electronic recyclers were set up two or three decades ago. And these devices will not be the last in this technological evolution.’

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