The Product Stewardship Act 2011 (Act)
was introduced into Federal Parliament as a Bill on 23 March 2011
and assented to on 25 July 2011. Although it is expected that the
Act will take effect in August 2011, the real impact will be felt
by business when the regulations under the Act come into effect.
Currently there are no Regulations and no plan for any industry yet
The Act establishes a product stewardship scheme so that
relevant parties in a product chain will share responsibility for
the products they produce, handle, purchase, use and discard.
The Act sets a framework for reducing the environmental and
other impacts of products by encouraging or requiring
manufacturers, importers, distributors and other persons to take
responsibility for these products.
The objectives of the Act are to:
reduce the impact that products and the substances contained in
products have on the environment and on the health and safety of
human beings throughout the lives of those products;
contribute to Australia meeting its international obligations
concerning environmental impacts; and
contribute to reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted,
energy used and water consumed.
These objects are to be achieved by encouraging or requiring
manufacturers, importers, distributors and others to take
responsibility for products through:
avoiding, reducing or eliminating the generation of waste;
reducing or eliminating hazardous substances in products and in
waste from products;
managing waste from products as a resource; and
ensuring that products and waste from products are reused,
recycled, recovered, treated and disposed of in a safe, scientific
and environmentally sound way.
The framework under the Act provides for three types of product
stewardship: voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory.
The intent of the voluntary scheme is to encourage product
stewardship without the need for regulation and provide the
community with more certainty, through the use of a logo, that
accredited schemes are actually achieving what they claim. There
will be audit and reporting obligations to provide transparency and
accountability under the voluntary scheme.
The co-regulatory scheme will be delivered by industry with only
outcomes and basic operational requirements specified in the
regulations. A company will not be able to benefit from refusing to
participate and thresholds may be applied to avoid impacts on small
The mandatory scheme will set obligations for parties to take
certain actions in relation to a product. These obligations can
producers to take products back at the end of life for
a deposit and refund to be applied to a product.
The Act contains provisions for civil and criminal sanctions,
enforceable undertakings and infringement notices. Pecuniary
penalties can be imposed both on a corporation as well as
The introduction of the Act is expected to have far-reaching
implications for most businesses, in particular, manufacturers,
producers, importers, financiers and banks.
The first regulations to be made under the Act will introduce a
National Television and Computer Product Stewardship Scheme, which
is expected to be phased in by the end of 2011. Under this scheme,
manufacturers, importers and suppliers of televisions, computers
and computer peripherals will be required to fund and implement
national collection and recycling systems. We anticipate that draft
regulations will be released in the near future.
Further detail will be provided on the Act and its regulations
when it comes to light. Cooper Grace Ward will hold a seminar in
October on a date to be advised on the implications of the Act.
Cooper Grace Ward was named Best Australian Law Firm in the BRW
Client Choice Awards 2010 - Revenue < $50m. Joint Best
Australian Law Firm in the BRW Client Choice Awards 2009 - Revenue
The firm has also been named as the fastest growing law firm in
Australia for 2009 by The Australian.
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.
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