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November 1, 2009

Sydney Morning Herald

TV price hike in recycling plan

THE price of televisions and computers is expected to rise under a national recycling scheme.

Aimed at saving large amounts of hazardous material from going to landfill each year, the scheme will be based on existing voluntary programs where suppliers agree to take back old equipment.

Arts and Environment Minister Peter Garrett said he was looking forward to a decision from his state counterparts this week following more than a decade of discussions.

''We are drawing closer to achieving a new, clearer direction and moving towards avoiding waste and actively using it as a resource,'' Mr Garrett said. ''Used televisions and computers have been identified as a priority and ministers will have before them … a suite of information including feedback from a public consultation process held earlier this year.''

Federal and state ministers will meet on Thursday to iron out the final details of the plan, which could start as early as next year.

Research commissioned by the ministers found people would be willing to pay an average of $30 more for a new television or computer if they could take it back to the supplier when they no longer wanted it. Less than 10 per cent of televisions and computers are recycled.

A report released last month found the number of electronic appliances being dumped is increasing. About 234 million computers, televisions and mobile phones were thrown out last year, an increase of 41 million on the year before.

A national scheme has been debated by governments for the past decade.

Industry is in favour of a system that would oblige manufacturers to take greater responsibility for the collection and disposal of unwanted appliances.

Product Stewardship Australia, a body set up by the electronics industry, has been pushing for a national scheme based on voluntary programs that allow customers to take their unwanted appliances back to where they bought them for recycling. The appliances are stripped of materials which can be recycled either here or overseas.

At Thursday's meeting ministers are also likely to commission a regulatory impact statement on container deposit legislation. This would put a 10-cent levy on drink containers, which could be reclaimed when they were recycled.


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