Labor taking action on recycling of mattresses, tyres and healthcare plastics

The Albanese Labor Government has expanded the list of products that industry must ensure are handled and ultimately disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner to include tyres, mattresses and plastics in healthcare products.

Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek has added these items to the Minister’s product stewardship priority list for 2022–23, published today during National Recycling Week.

The makers and importers of items on the product stewardship priority list must take responsibility for the impacts of their products on the environment across their entire life cycle.

It goes above and beyond recycling and considers how the development, design, manufacture, import, sale, use and recovery of materials and products can be adjusted to improve environmental outcomes.

There are existing industry-led initiatives for tyres and mattresses recycling, but unfortunately not enough businesses are voluntarily participating. The addition of these products on the Minister’s product stewardship priority list means that if participation does not increase, the government will consider regulation.

Healthcare waste has become increasingly problematic due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, while there are already some initiatives addressing this waste stream, this listing will drive further innovation, and expansion of emerging solutions so the industry can come together to develop a national scheme.

Other products already listed include solar panels, electrical and electronic products, child car seats, oil containers, clothing textiles and problematic plastics.

For more information, visit the website.

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek:

“An industry-led stewardship approach is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to reduce a product’s impact on the environment and human health,” Minister Plibersek said.

“Around half of tyre importers do not contribute financially to the current Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme so more needs to be done.

“About 22,000 tonnes of mattresses still go into landfill every year, while another 15,000 tonnes of material is recovered from mattresses but is still dumped because there is currently no market for it.

“We can also recycle and recover much more waste, with about 85 per cent of healthcare waste non-toxic and similar to domestic waste.

“The priority list makes our intentions clear – if industry does not act, the Government will.”