Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1965 ..
There is national product stewardship. This comes in several different flavours. MobileMuster is a voluntary product stewardship scheme funded by the telecommunications industry. It recycles old phones free of charge. You can drop off your old phone in a post office, op shop or telecommunications store and it gets recycled. You can still send your phone to landfill, but you should not. You should use one of the free services.
The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme is another product stewardship model. That one is mandatory, and it means that all televisions and computers are now banned from landfill in Canberra. It is regulated by law, and we have municipal collection points at Mugga Lane and Mitchell.
The reason we need some of these schemes is because recycling often costs more money than it makes. For all of these product stewardship schemes, the funding comes from the manufacturers, the importers and the distributors. The schemes are based on the principle that people do not mind paying when they are buying a new item, but they do not want to pay to dispose of an old item. It has a handy incentive on the side: the people who are making stuff have an incentive to make it easier to recycle.
I have been professionally involved in a lot of these programs. Not all of them are perfect, but every model has something to offer. I would say that the only scheme that has failed altogether is the one that we do not yet have.
The ACT government has considered recycling for solar panels, batteries and appliances. I know the minister for city services and the Minster for the Environment are working hard on national product stewardship. I am excited every time I hear a new announcement about this. I thank everyone for their work in this space, but our national progress has been slow.
We need to set up a recycling scheme now. While there is still a relatively small amount of solar panels, big batteries and electrical appliances going into landfill, the waste streams are increasing really fast. Nationally, there were 2,700 tonnes of old solar panels at the end of their life in 2018, but there were 360,000 tonnes installed. That means we are heading for a lot of material really soon. We have to get on with it.
The Victorian government are getting on with it. They are participating in national product stewardship, but they have also taken state-based action. They have banned solar panels, solar batteries, inverters and general electrical appliances from their landfill. Sometimes it is good to wait, but sometimes we need to act. When progress takes half a decade or a decade, I think it is time to move on.
We have seen Assembly motions in the past about some of these materials. The answers given at the time were that there were no recycling providers operating at a commercial scale and that the industry was not yet ready. The great news is that things have now changed. The industry has matured. There are a lot of recyclers working in this field. My quick research showed that we have 17 companies operating in Australia for all of these materials. I was at an industry seminar last month, and a