Australian businesses, across a wide range of sectors, have been working to reduce the environmental impacts of their operations and products. In many sectors industries have, or are developing, voluntary product stewardship schemes.
Product Stewardship is an approach that recognises that manufacturers, importers, governments and consumers have a shared responsibility for the environmental impacts of a product throughout its full life cycle. Product Stewardship schemes establish a means for relevant parties in the product chain to share responsibility for the products they produce, handle, purchase, use and discard. Governments are keen to support manufacturers and importers of products in these efforts.
In December 2004, EPHC released a discussion paper titled “Co-regulatory Frameworks for Product Stewardship” for broad consultation. The paper sought feedback on a range of issues including a proposed co-regulatory model using a NEPM to deliver national consistency. The majority of respondents supported the concept of co-regulation and the use of a NEPM. The discussion paper and analysis of submissions can be downloaded below.
In July 2005, NEPC initiated the development of a NEPM for product stewardship. The NEPM was to consist of a generic framework that establishes guidelines and principles to be applied by governments in determining the merits of a co-regulatory approach for a particular sector, and guides the development of product stewardship agreements for particular sectors.
The NEPM was also to include schedules relating to sector specific product stewardship agreements (initially anticipated to relate to tyres and televisions) setting out the requirements for non-participants captured under the NEPM.
Degradable Plastics Packaging Materials: Assessment and Implication for the Australian Environment
"Degradable Plastics Packaging Materials: Assessment and Implication for the Australian Environment" is the result of scientific research commissioned by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council Standing Committee and independently conduct by the CSIRO. The development of standards and claims about a product's performance needs to be informed by sound science, based on real-life conditions, as well as a range of local and international factors such as technologies, markets and other considerations.
During the study, testing took place on a range of plastic types using real-time exposure and in-laboratory simulated conditions for the two target end-environments of marine water and on-soil locations. The report does not endorse or recommend a particular type of material for a given end-environment. However, the report's results do add to the scientific understanding of the variability that occurs within these environments and how disintegration and degradation of materials made to a specification may also vary. This study is intended to inform policy makers, designers, technical experts and research organisations, and also adds to the current literature on the management of appropriate materials and products over their whole-of-life.
The final report can be found below.