Australia: What goes around comes around

Customs Trade and Transport Update
Last Updated: 11 July 2011
Article by Andrew Hudson


The Product Stewardship Bill 2011 ("the Bill" or the "the Act") establishes a national framework underpinned by Commonwealth legislation of voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory schemes to more effectively manage the recycling and safe disposal of products containing hazardous materials.

Manufacturers, importers and distributors alike, will be encouraged and required to take responsibility for those products, by taking action such as avoiding generating waste and hazardous substances and ensuring that such waste is recycled and disposed of in a safe, scientific and environmentally sound way.

The Bill also aims to contribute to the meeting of Australia's international obligations concerning the impacts of the waste, reduction of greenhouse gases and energy and water consumed in such dealings.

Background to the Bill

Australia is projected to produce 150 per cent more waste in 2020–21 compared with 2002–03 levels1. With waste generation in Australia steadily increasing in volume, complexity and toxicity the National Waste Policy was implemented in an attempt to reduce waste for disposal and to manage it as a resource to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits.

Product Stewardship is purportedly seen as a key method to help meet the objectives of the National Waste Policy by sharing responsibility amongst manufacturers, consumers, Government and the community for reducing the environmental, health and safety 'footprint' of manufactured goods across the life cycle of a product.

Product Stewardship

The Bill introduces three types of regulations: voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory.


The voluntary provisions of the Bill establish a mechanism to encourage and recognise product stewardship without the need to regulate the arrangements. Accreditation of eligible schemes and the availability of Product stewardship 'logos' will also exist to assure the Community that a voluntary scheme is operating to achieve its stated and measured outcomes.


On the other hand, a co-regulatory scheme would involve a combination of government regulation and industry action. 'Liable parties' of manufacturers, importers, distributors and users of products, would be required to be part of these regulations.

A 'liable party' for a class of products includes anyone who has at any time manufactured, imported, distributed or used a product in that class in Australia. However the Minister can exempt parties if it so chooses.

Under the arrangements it is the responsibility of such parties to take reasonable steps, as well as to appoint an 'administrator' to report on the arrangements and to ensure the outcomes and requirements are achieved.

Anti-avoidance provisions will also exist and the Government will have the ability to issue improvement notices to administrators, and require arrangements to be audited. Mandatory


Mandatory product stewardship requires 'liable parties' to take, or not to take, specified action in relation to products. These requirements might include restricting the manufacture or import of products, labelling requirements and requirements relating to the treating or disposing of products.

In addition, as a matter of government policy, a regulatory impact assessment of the proposed regulations would also have to be satisfied.

Under mandatory arrangements civil penalties and infringement notices can be issued for contravention of the regulations.

Enforcement and Sanctions

According to the Bill, the Government has the power to require inspections to identify contraventions of the Act. Such a breach can result in pecuniary penalties as well as publication of the offence.

However, there is provision for the review of decision either by the Minister personally or by an internal review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The court is also given power to regulate any undertakings made or given under the Act.

Which products does it apply to?

The 'Product Stewardship Criteria' are satisfied in relation to a class of products if:

  • the products in the class are in a national market; and
  • at least one of the following applies in relation to the products in the class:
    • the products contain hazardous substances;
    • there is the potential to significantly increase the
    • conservation of materials used in the products, or the recovery of resources (including materials and energy) from waste from the products;
    • there is the potential to significantly reduce the impact that the products have on the environment, or that substances in the products have on the environment.

The Government will have regard to the above criteria in determining whether to accredit voluntary schemes and as well as in determining whether to enforce co-regulatory or mandatory regulations for certain products.

In Australia there are six products or materials that are currently subject to assessment for product stewardship or have been previously assessed by the Environment Ministerial Council.

These include:

  • packaging
  • plastic bags
  • mercury containing lights
  • computers and televisions;
  • tyres
  • packaging and litter (including beverage containers)

The National Waste Implementation Plan has identified these as the priority products to be covered under product stewardship schemes in the first two to three years.

What does it mean for my business?

The Bill has ramifications for importers and manufacturers who trade in products that are in a national market as well as Local Government insofar as their involvement in the collection of the products.

One of the concerns of the scheme held by industry was whether reporting requirements and powers of investigation would mean confidential commercial information could become available in the public domain. The Bill has attempted to address this by making it an offence to disclose any information obtained as a result of the Act that is not authorised and might substantially prejudice an entity's commercial interests. There is also a limitation on the ability of courts and tribunals to require the disclosure of protected information.

Although 12 months notice must be given to the relevant class of products (unless there are special circumstances), the regulations may require any of the following; the restriction of the manufacture, import, export, distribution or use of a product or the substances contained within it, changes to labelling and packaging restrictions and the requirement of communication and records of the distribution, recycling and recovering of products.

Therefore in anticipation of the impact of the changes and having regard to possible sanctions, the passing of such a Bill requires action by industry, local government and other affected parties alike.

With industry-leading expertise in this area of law Hunt & Hunt have the knowledge and the resources to assist and advise your business with the seamless implementation of the new laws and schemes with commercially viable outcomes. As ever, we would be happy to assist with readying your business for the changes.

1Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), National Waste Report 2010, March 2010, p. 3, as referred to in, Product Stewardship Bill 2011, Explanatory Memorandum, Commonwealth of Australia 2011 p. 2

Contact us

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Hudson, Partner
T +61 3 8602 9231
F +61 3 8602 9299

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.