Annex A. Television and computer recycling in Australia12

Edwards Bruce
O’Connor-Cox Declan


Cost allocation

No data on local government’s expenditure

Cost coverage

Market driven competitive scheme, Australian Government not involved in contracting or fee setting.

Role of government

  • Accreditation of co-regulatory arrangements;

  • Administration of the scheme including ensuring compliance by liable parties, and approving and monitoring the outcomes of co-regulatory arrangements including collection and material recovery targets;

  • Authority to impose civil and financial sanctions for non-compliance;

  • Monitoring and consultation with stakeholders in view of possible reviews.

Environmental performance

In 2012-2013, 40 813 tonnes of e-waste recycled, equivalent to 98.8% of the target (i.e. 41 327 tonnes) and nearly double the volume of TVs and computer recycling per annum prior to the implementation of the scheme.

In 2013-14, 52 736 tonnes of e-waste was recycled, exceeding the target of 43 430 tonnes by over 9 300 tonnes.

DfE incentive

90% material recovery target as from 1 July 2014 (almost met already)

Cost efficiency

  • Net benefit estimated between USD 517 million and USD 742 million over the period 2009 to 2030.

  • Limited data is available on e-waste recycling occurring outside the Scheme. Pre-implementation data indicated an initial recycling rate of 17 %, which in some cases may have been absorbed into Scheme activities.

1. Description of EPR set-up

  1. Legal context

The National Waste Policy: Less waste, more resources was endorsed by the Australian government, and the state, territory and local governments in November 2009. It identified 16 key areas for collaborative efforts, including the establishment of a national product stewardship legislation to formalize the number of voluntary schemes existing at that time. This led to the Product Stewardship Act 2011 (the Act) in August 2011, which provides a national framework to support voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory product stewardship schemes. The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (the scheme) started in 2012 as the first co-regulatory scheme under the Act. Specific requirements and outcomes of the scheme are specified in a subordinate legislation, the Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations 2011, which can more easily be amended than the overarching Act.

  1. Allocation of responsibilities (distribution of roles, financial flows)

The scheme requires manufacturers and importers (liable parties) of televisions, computers and computer peripherals to jointly fund the collection and recycling of a portion of products disposed of in Australia every year (a gradually increasing percentage figure which is a proportion of waste arising, 35% in 2014-15). Companies importing or manufacturing volumes under a certain threshold (liability is triggered by import of 5 000+ units of televisions and/or computers, and 15 000+ units of computer parts/peripherals) are not required to participate. Recycling services under the scheme are provided free of charge to households and small businesses that drop-off end-of-life products at industry-provided collection services. Liable parties are required to join and fund co-regulatory arrangements that are responsible for organising and delivering collection services and to provide recycling services on behalf of the liable parties. They are also in charge of raising awareness to the public about the availability of collection services and the products being accepted. Co‐regulatory arrangements must apply to the government for accreditation. Three organizations were approved in 2011-12, providing 635 collection sites services. A further two arrangements were approved in 2012-13. Co-regulatory arrangements may choose to contract out collection, logistics or recycling services to third party providers, which would then sell the recovered materials to national and international markets. E-waste not covered by the Scheme remains the constitutional responsibility of state and territory governments, and through them local governments. In 2013-14, these entities are responsible for managing 67% of TV and computer e-waste. These figures will progressively decrease as industry-funded collection targets increase. Over 200 local governments have partnered to date with co-regulatoryarrangements to provide services under the Scheme. They are also in charge of approval and licencing conditions for waste collection and recycling infrastructure, in order to safeguard consumer and environmental protection.

  1. Governance system

The scheme is a co-regulatory scheme, as opposed to mandatory and voluntary approaches that are also envisaged under the Act. Under the co-regulatory approach, product stewardship operations are delivered by the industry and regulated by the Australian Government. The Australian Government administers the scheme by ensuring compliance by liable parties, and by approving and monitoring the outcomes of co‐regulatory arrangements including the collection and material recovery targets. Co‐regulatory arrangements report directly to the Australian Government. Liable parties that do not meet their obligation to join a co-regulatory arrangement can be issued civil penalties, injunctions, or financial sanctions up to the total costs that they would have disbursed by joining an arrangement administered by the Australian Government. The Act also provides for sanctions when a co-regulatory arrangement fails to meet one of the required outcomes of the scheme; these sanctions include an improvement notice or, as a last resort, the cancelation of the arrangement’s approval.

2. Environmental effectiveness

  1. Collection and recycling rates

A review of the scheme in 2013 introduced a single recycling target for all products covered in order to provide greater flexibility to co-regulatory arrangements to manage risk and to ensure better alignment between collection activities and e-waste disposed by households and small businesses.

The industry e-waste recycling target was set at 30% in 2012-13. In the first year of the scheme, 40 813 tonnes of TV and computer waste was recycled, equivalent to 98.8% of the scheme target (i.e. 41 327 tonnes) and nearly double the volume of TV and computer recycling per annum prior to the implementation of the scheme. The rate of recycling increased throughout the financial year as co-regulatory arrangements established collection services and entered into contracts with recycling service providers. Annual recycling targets are set to evolve in proportion to the total waste estimated to be generated in a given year, according to a formula detailed in the Regulation.3 Targets are expected to increase slowly to 80% in 2021-22. Figure A.1 shows the proportion of computer and TV waste covered by the targets in relation to overall waste expected to be generated per year.

Figure A.1. Pre-implementation projections of waste arising from 2011-12 to 2023-24, showing the proportions covered and not covered by the scheme’s annual recycling targets

Note: Projections are being revised as part of the current operational review.

Source: Bruce Edwards and Declan O’Connor-Cox (2014), The Australian National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, Case study prepared for the OECD,

  1. Design-for-Environment (DfE)

As from 1 July 2014, a material recovery target of 90% was set. This target refers to the proportion of components and materials recuperated from TVs and computers after recycling to be sent for processing into useable products and materials. It is designed to achieve a reduction in the post-recycling materials being sent to landfills and to increase the quality of recycling. The current performance of recycling providers generally exceeds 90% but some improvement is needed by individual e-waste recycling providers in order to ensure this standard is consistently met from July 2014.

Following the commencement of the scheme, Standards Australia4 developed the Australia-New Zealand Standard “Collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment(Standard 5377) in 2013, which specifies requirements for the safe and environmentally sound collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical equipment. Application of this standard is expected to maximise re-use and material recovery in the recycling process, reduce or eliminate the amount of waste going to landfill, safeguard the health of industry workers and minimise potential harm to the environment. Incentives for companies are financial – encourages sourcing of market for recovered materials, to offset recycling costs. However, mandatory accreditation to the standard is being considered as part of the current operational review.

3. Economic efficiency (including competition aspects)

  1. Cost efficiency

A cost-benefit analysis was undertaken in 2009 by the Australian Government under the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), which estimated that the scheme for TVs and computers would provide a net benefit of between USD 517 million and USD 742 million over the period 2008-09 to 2030-31.

The financial liability of individual importers and manufacturers is determined by a specific product code assigned to imported products. Every code has an associated conversion factor, which is an estimated average weight of the product type, and is updated over time as technological advances occur.5 Co-regulatory arrangements set fees for liable parties in a competitive and open market, and no set proportion of costs must be covered.

  1. Leakages and free riders

Monitoring and data received by the Australian Government since the introduction of the scheme has revealed a thorough implementation of the scheme’s requirements and it was observed that a majority of liable importers and manufacturers have met their obligation to join a co-regulatory arrangement.

  1. Trade and competition

The scheme has stimulated competition in the e-waste recycling industry. As the industry grows stakeholders including co-regulatory arrangements and recyclers have formed partnerships to take advantage of the expanding industry and increased recycling activity. In addition to developing and growing local recycling capability, some parts of the industry are specialising in particular areas of resource recovery and recycling.

4. Key issues and possible reforms

Television and computer manufacturing industries continuously innovate, improve technologies and make new products available to consumers. This can cause variations in both the applicable product codes and the conversion factors which assign an estimated weight to each product type. Scheme product codes and conversion factors will be subject to ongoing assessment and consideration, including an industry survey of products and weights every 2-3 years to inform further amendments.


← 1. Full source available at: Bruce Edwards and Declan O’Connor-Cox (2014), The Australian National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, Case study prepared for the OECD,

← 2. Department of Environment, Government of Australia.

← 3. Based on the average weight of imports of the last three years and multiplied by a factor of 0.9, which assumes that the majority of imported TVs and computers are purchased to replace another product that enters the waste stream.

← 4. A non-government organisation that works with government and industry to comply with Australia’s internationally aligned standards and that publishes specifications and procedures designed to ensure products, services and systems are safe, consistent and reliable.

← 5. The purpose of this conversion factor is to approximately align the data collected by the Australian Customs Service, which is calculated in number of units imported, with the measurement metrics used by the recycling industry, which are calculated in weight of items recycled. Converting product data from numerical imports to weighted products helps provide more consistent and meaningful information to inform recycling targets.