By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Panasonic Australia managing director Steve Rust is excited and pleased by the new scheme to deal with the waste from used televisions. Rust told that he was particularly happy that the new initiative will be industry-wide, meaning that suppliers can no longer shirk their responsibilities.

“I’m very please about it,” Rust said. “We’ve been lobbying the Government for several years with industry members…with the view to handling the waste issues around TV, and we’ve been promoting to State Governments and also Federal Governments through that organisation for a number of years to introduce a national TV recycling scheme.”

As part of the new scheme, every importer of televisions into Australia will be levied in order to pay for the logistics of the recycling. This will include the manufacturers that have not been part of Product Stewardship Australia (PSA), the peak industry lobby group. This resolves one of the key stumbling blocks anticipated with this scheme: what to do with freeloaders?

“What will happen in this new scheme is everybody importing televisions in the country, and there’s no TVs made in Australia anymore, so they’re all imported, and through cooperation with customs this new entity to be set will be able to recover fees from all importers, so these fees will be used to recycle TVs.

“It means that nobody will be able to import product without taking responsibility for the management of the recycling of the product.”

We asked Rust if this was one of the more important factors from Panasonic’s perspective.

“Absolutely, it was one of the very most important points that we’ve been lobbying the Government on, and the Government has recognised that, and the scheme that will be set up will be pretty much along the lines that we suggested.”

Rust said that ultimately the industry has received the scheme that it wanted, with the Government not implementing any caveats that he was not happy with. He said this was a result of a long collaborative process.

“[The Government] pretty much listened to our recommendations, and it has been a consultative process over many years, so we were able to make our representations to the most senior levels of Government, including ministerial level, around all the states and also at the federal level with [Environment Minister] Peter Garrett.”