former Standing Council on Environment and Water

(incorporating the National Environment Protection Council)

EPHC Archive - Product stewardship

Caution: archived content

Information previously available on the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) website ( is listed in this archive. These pages are no longer being maintained or updated but remain here as an archive for your information.

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.

Co-regulatory Frameworks for Product Stewardship Discussion Paper

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.

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.

Beverage Containers

Willingness-to-Pay Report - June 2010

In July 2010, following the completion of a choice modelling survey, the EPHC considered a report assessing community willingness-to-pay to increase the recycling of packaging and decrease packaging-related litter. This work sought to quantify the non-market benefits that consumers place on improvements to packaging and beverage container waste management.

The EPHC has agreed to develop a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for consultation. Whilst some aspects of the assessment have been contested, substantial work has been completed on the analysis of options for national measures to address resource efficiency, environmental impacts and the reduction of litter from packaging wastes such as beverage containers. EPHC agreed that the Consultation RIS will consider not only container deposit legislation but also a limited number of options which may have a positive cost benefit and a tangible impact on recovery rates and litter reduction. The RIS process will be transparent and consultative, and the scope and approach will be the subject of early engagement with key stakeholders. The willingness-to-pay report, prepared by PricewaterhouseCooopers, and a review of this report prepared by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resouce economics are available below. EPHC recognised the important contribution of the new Australian Packaging Covenant to resource recovery and litter reduction and the recent agreement by Council to renew the Covenant.

Beverage Container Investigation: Revised Report - June 2010

A recent analysis of the 2009 BDA Group/Wright Corporate Strategy 'Beverage Container Investigation' report (BDA report) identified a discrepancy in the economic analysis of the container deposit system option.

BDA Group/Wright Corporate Strategy have provided a revised report with corrected calculations. The correction has no effect on the relative ranking of the various options costed, but significantly changes the overall cost of the national container deposit system option. The revised report is available below.

The consultants engaged to peer review the original BDA report (Covec) were commissioned to undertake an independent review of the amendments.

Beverage Container Investigation - Final Report - May 2009

In April 2008, EPHC agreed to conduct an assessment of potential options for national measures, including container deposit legislation, to address resource efficiency, environmental impacts, and the reduction of litter from packaging wastes such as beverage containers.

In May 2009, the EPHC considered a report entitled Beverage Container Investigation - Final Report. The report provided an assessment of potential options for national measures, including container deposit legislation, to address resource efficiency, environmental impacts and the reduction of litter from packaging wastes such as beverage containers. The original 2009 Beverage Container Investigation Report, peer review and a covering statement from the Beverage Container Working Group are available below.

Product stewardship for end of life tyres

At the November 2009 EPHC meeting, environment ministers committed to work with industry, governments and the community to find appropriate solutions for the responsible management of end of life tyres.

Governments will work with the tyre industry and other stakeholders to develop industry-led schemes to increase recycling and expand the market for tyre derived products. This will be achieved through the National Waste Policy product stewardship framework.

The framework will provide a consistent approach to reducing the environmental footprint and health and safety risks of specified manufactured products and materials, particularly at the end of their useful life. It will have a provision for industry-led schemes to be accredited, and will ensure schemes meet national standards and are transparent and accountable.

Industry-led schemes will aim to open up new local markets for managing end of life tyres. Many opportunities exist for using end of life tyres including for road construction material and playgrounds with new options emerging such as flexible paints and glues.

More information about product stewardship 

Television and Computer Product Stewardship

The new national television and computer recycling scheme is a key part of Australia’s new National Waste Policy. Council has agreed that the Australian Government will develop and implement requirements under the National Product Stewardship Framework to ensure that manufacturers and importers of televisions and computers establish an efficient and effective national scheme (or schemes) for collecting and recycling their end of life products.

Plastic Bags

In 2002, EPHC resolved to reduce the environmental impacts of plastic bags. A voluntary retailer Code of Practice was the primary mechanism developed to achieve this. The Code operated from 2003 to 2005 and committed major retailer signatories to achieve a 50% reduction in plastic bag use by 2005. Major retailers reduced plastic bags use by about 41-44% and, nationally, Australians reduced overall plastic bag use by about 34%. Given the limited potential for subsequent voluntary initiatives to significantly reduce plastic bag use, in June 2006 EPHC committed to phase out plastic bags by the end of 2008, and to consider regulatory options for achieving this. EPHC reaffirmed this objective in June 2007.

A Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) was released in January 2007. The Consultation RIS found that regulatory options for a phase-out had economic costs which significantly out weighed the environmental benefits.

In April 2008, EPHC noted the analysis presented in a Decision RIS on plastic bags, particularly the financial costs of regulatory options, and resolved to not endorse uniform regulatory action at this time to ban or place a charge on plastic bags.