Australia: Product Stewardship Bill 2011

Last Updated: 25 May 2011
Article by Ashleigh Fehrenbach

A National Framework to Manage the Environmental, Health and Safety Impact of Products - Increased Compliance Requirements and Costs for Manufacturers, Importers and Distributors? - Recycling of TVs and Computers


On 23 March 2011, the Federal Government introduced the Product Stewardship Bill (the Bill) which will establish a national framework to manage the environmental, health and safety impacts of products (such as televisions and computers).

The Bill provides the framework by which obligations over time will be imposed on manufacturers, importers, distributors and others relating to the avoidance, reduction and management of waste derived from products, with a particular emphasis on the disposal of products.

Executive Summary

The Bill establishes three categories of "stewardship arrangements" to regulate the environmental, safety and health impacts of specific products across their lifecycle. These are:

  • voluntary product stewardship (Pt 2);
  • co-regulatory product stewardship arrangements (Pt 3); and
  • mandatory product stewardship arrangements (Pt 4).

The type of arrangement that will apply to individual manufacturers, importers, distributors or other businesses will be determined by regulations once the Bill is passed. The extent to which an arrangement will apply depends on the type of product and the nature of the industry. Initially, the arrangements will apply to televisions and computer equipment.

However, obligations will only apply to classes of products identified in the regulations under the mandatory and co-regulatory arrangements.

Stewardship Arrangements

Voluntary product stewardship arrangements are intended to encourage product stewardship without regulation and provide community certainty through an accreditation system. If the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is satisfied that an arrangement furthers the object of the Act, the Minister may accredit the arrangement. The Minister indicated, in his second reading speech of the Bill, that accreditation logos will be used to help members of the public determine whether accredited arrangements are actually achieving their objectives.

Co-regulatory product stewardship arrangements are more formal, but retain industry control and involve minimal government intervention. The Government will set minimum outcomes and operational requirements, and the industry has flexibility as to how those outcomes and requirements are achieved. A company will not be able to benefit by refusing to participate in a particular industry's co-regulatory arrangement. However, thresholds may be applied to avoid impacts on small businesses.

The mandatory product stewardship arrangements will likely be established by regulations, which will set out prescriptive product stewardship requirements, and impose criminal and/or civil penalties if those requirements are not met. Clause 37 of the Bill provides that a wide range of mandatory requirements may be specified in the regulations, including:

  • restrictions or prohibitions on the manufacture, import, export, distribution or use of a product;
  • prohibitions or limitations on substances that may be contained in a product;
  • specific labelling or packaging requirements for certain products;
  • requirements that producers take products back at the end of the product's life for recycling; and
  • special communication requirements regarding the distribution, reuse, recycling, recovery, treatment or disposal of a product.

Before mandatory regulations are made in respect of a particular product, an extensive and transparent assessment and consultation process is required.

A taste of things to come

The first product stewardship scheme under the new legislation will relate to televisions and computers. The proposed National Television and Computer Product Stewardship Scheme (NTCPSS) is designed to increase the recycling rate of TVs and computers to 80 % by 2021.

A consultation paper on the NTCPSS, published for public comment in March 2011, outlines key aspects of the proposed regulations, which will place the obligation to comply with the scheme on importers and domestic manufacturers (if any) of televisions, computers and computer peripherals.1 (Computer peripherals include items such as keyboards and mice, as well as internal components such as motherboards, graphics or network cards and DVD drives.2)

There will be a threshold for compliance. Only those importers and manufacturers who import or manufacture a specific number of units per annum will be liable. Whilst not yet determined, the consultation paper suggests there will be different thresholds for televisions, computers and computer peripherals to reflect market differences for these products. 3 The thresholds set could range between 200 and 5000 units per annum, depending on the product. 4

In addition, the Environment Protection and Heritage Council is currently working with the Government, industry and stakeholders to develop an industry-led product stewardship scheme for end of life tyres. 5


The Bill reflects a growing domestic and international concern to share responsibility among manufacturers, importers, governments and consumers in managing the environmental impact of products throughout their full life-cycle. In Australia, product stewardship arrangements have been in place for some years in various industries, such as the lubricating oils industry (Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000 (Cth)) and in respect of ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases (Ozone and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (Cth)). Also, South Australia has implemented successfully a mandatory deposit-refund scheme on drink containers since 1977, and used packaging stewardship has operated in every jurisdiction since 1998 under a National Environment Protection Measure.

Furthermore, since 2002, the creation of a nationwide Container Deposit Scheme, similar to that already in place in South Australia has been discussed. At present, the Environment Protection and Heritage Council is forming a Regulatory Impact Statement in respect of such a scheme. 6 In addition, the Greens have introduced the Environment Protection (Beverage Container Deposit and Recovery Scheme) Bill 2010 into the Senate. This legislation would provide for a nationwide container deposit scheme, broader than that currently operating in South Australia. 7

Internationally, the European Union is implementing currently an Integrated Product Policy to minimise environmental impact at all phases of a product's life-cycle. 8 Furthermore, a product stewardship scheme similar to the proposed NTCPSS has operated in various provinces in Canada since 2007. For example, under British Columbia's Recycling Regulations, producers (including manufacturers and sellers) of designated electronics must participate in an approved product stewardship plan.

If enacted, the Bill has the potential to increase dramatically the categories of products and industries required to engage in product stewardship arrangements. However, the Bill establishes a framework for regulation; accordingly only a limited assessment of the impact of the Bill can be made at this time. It is only when regulations are made under the new legislation which specifies the products and industries to which product stewardship obligations will apply that the full impact of the product stewardship regime will be known. We can predict that the product stewardship scheme will increase significantly compliance obligations and costs for many manufacturers, importers and/or distributors.

We will monitor the progress of the legislation, and provide further details of specific industry and product regulations as and when they become available.

The assistance of Cate Sendall, Solicitor and Alec Bombell, Clerk, of Addisons in the preparation of this article is noted and greatly appreciated

1. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Consultation Paper on Proposed Regulations (Consultation Paper), at 13. Available at: Accessed on 11/05/2011.

2. Consultation Paper at 12.

3. Consultation Paper at 15.

4. Consultation Paper at 16.

5. 'Product Stewardship for End of Life Tyres', Environment Protection and Heritage Council,, updated 1st April 2011, accessed on 18 May 2011 at 12:41pm.

6. Commonwealth of Australia, Parliamentary Debates, Senate, March 1, 2011, column 865 (Senator Hon. Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy).

7. Commonwealth of Australia, Parliamentary Debates, Senate, March 3, 2011, column 1064 (Senator Moore)

8. "What is Integrated Product Policy?", European Commission - Environment,, last updated 11/05/2011, accessed on 11/05/2011.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.