New standards designed to help divert e-waste from landfill by imposing a rigorous process for its collection, storage, and recycling have been set by Standards Australia.
The new, joint Australian and New Zealand Standard, ‘AS/NZS 5377:2013 Collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment’, outlines minimum requirements for the safe and environmentally sound handling of e-waste.
Colin Blair, Chief Executive Officer, Standards Australia, said the standard sets out principles and minimum requirements for end-of-life electrical equipment in order to maximise re-use, reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, safeguard worker health, and minimise environmental harm.
“The standard states that a lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation or adverse health and safety effects.
The standard sends a strong message regarding the environmental concerns of e-waste.”
According to Blair, the standard recognises that there are laws in place regulating how to comply with occupational health and safety requirements and environmental performance, and that Australia and New Zealand are signatories to international agreements on environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and pollutants.
“The standard enhances existing environmental protections and international obligations, while establishing the processes required to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.”
Senator Don Farrell, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water welcomed the new standard, which he said aligned with the Australian Government’s goal of ensuring that e-waste is managed in a manner that protects human health and the environment.
“The new standard will complement the Australian Government’s National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme under which recycling services for televisions and computers are being rolled out to communities across Australia.”
Senator Farrell said that householders and businesses could drop off unwanted e-waste products “confident that the valuable materials they contain will be recovered, and that any hazardous materials will not enter the environment.”
He said the standard also provided environmentally-effective guidelines for industry and would help ensure that, from 1 July 2014, at least 90 per cent of all materials in e-waste collected under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme were recovered for use in new products.”