By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Panasonic today ramped up pressure on the Rudd government to implement a national recycling scheme for old TVs, calling for an industry-funded scheme to be operational within three to four years.

Panasonic’s pledge to lobby for the scheme follows a recent letter by Product Stewardship Australia on behalf of leading TV brands expressing frustration and disappointment at environment minister Peter Garrett’s inaction on the proposed scheme.

Panasonic Australia managing director, Steve Rust, said e-waste was one of the most significant threats to Australia’s environment and called on the government to start now on implementing PSA’s fully-funded scheme.

“Tens of thousands of old television sets are ending up in landfill every month,” said Rust.

“The more a national initiative is delayed the more dire the consequences for the Australian environment.” 

PSA estimates two million TVs will go into landfill this year and the number is set to increase as digital switchover approaches as people abandon redundant analogue sets.

Talks with the federal government and the Federal Environmental Protection and Heritage Council have been deadlocked for three years, according to the PSA.

Panasonic suggests only a plan with national coordination led by the federal government will be able to tackle the problem.

It is unrealistic for the burden of this problem to be borne by individual local councils, manufacturers or recycling organisations. This is a significant logistical and educational challenge that needs the full attention of the federal government,” Rust said.

“Panasonic is deeply committed to the preservation of our environment and will continue to push for the implementation of a national scheme.”

Newer TVs, including those made by Panasonic, have since been rid of hazardous substances.

However, many older televisions contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury and other heavy metals which pose serious human and environmental risks.