Overcoming Free-Riders: Strategies to maximise industry participation

Free-riders are businesses or organisations that may benefit from a product stewardship activity without contributing to its implementation or operation. Through introducing a critical element of unfairness into a product stewardship scheme, free-riders can be a major deterrent to participation and thereby threaten the effectiveness of existing and emerging product stewardship schemes in Australia.

The Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence conducted an extensive literature review, identifying ten practical strategies, which when used in tandem, can support product stewards in overcoming the challenges of free-riders.

Download our White Paper on free-riders here.

Read our media release here.

Webinar – ACCC Authorisation for product stewardship schemes

Video & Resource from the September webinar, 2021.

Stewardship Schemes: Help us solve logistics, governance and free riders

Logistics, governance and free-riders are the three biggest challenges facing many of Australia’s product stewardship initiatives as they tackle the Australian Government’s ambitious plan to decrease waste by 10% and increase resource recovery to 80%.

The Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence surveyed industry participants to understand what is holding back further development and timely expansion of product stewardship.

Download a copy of the findings here.

Read our media release here.

The Honourable Sussan Ley MP, the Minister for the Environment

Minister for Environment gives solar industry deadline to ‘step-up’ and address waste

Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley has given the solar industry until June 2022 to create and finalise an industry-led nationwide solar panel waste scheme.

If this deadline is not met, the industry may face regulation after a tabling of the latest Product Stewardship list in Parliament on June 22, 2021.

Following her speech in the National Press Club last week, Minister Ley  signalled waste from solar systems as a looming environmental disaster.

“Solar panels have languished on the Government’s priority list for six years now. It is time for the industry to step up and address the issue of waste either stockpiling or ending up in landfill.” Minister Ley said.

Read the Minister’s full media release here.

Read more on the Minister’s Priority List for 2021-22 here.

Rose Read discusses accelerating product stewardship in Australia on 702 ABC Radio Sydney

Rose Read, Director of the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence, joined 702 ABC Radio Sydney on June 23, 2021 to discuss accelerating the uptake of product stewardship in Australia through mentoring, educating and activating stakeholders across product and material supply chains.

Listen here:

Webinar – Government Accreditation of Industry & Business-led Product Stewardship Initiatives

Video & Resource from the webinar on June 16, 2021.

Webinar – The Value and Role of Product Stewardship in Australia

Video, transcript and resource from the inaugural webinar on April 27, 2021.

Group photo of key stakeholders at the launch of the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence

Centre of Excellence to Accelerate Product Stewardship

The Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence, launched today, aims for the wide-scale adoption of product and material stewardship principles by businesses to reduce waste generation and create positive environmental and social outcomes.

The Centre of Excellence was officially launched by The Hon Sussan Ley MP, the Minister for the Environment, and the Hon Trevor Evans MP, the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management in Parliament House, Canberra.

Product Stewardship is about companies, brands and retailers taking greater responsibility for their products and services across their whole life cycle. Product Stewardship leads to design of better products, using and reusing products and materials efficiently and putting in place effective end-of-life recovery systems.

Centre of Excellence Director, Rose Read, said the Australian Government was showing immense leadership in fostering and supporting product stewardship and supporting businesses to thrive and do more.

“By strengthening product stewardship legislation in the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, providing $20 million through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund, and through the enthusiasm from Minister Ley and Assistant Minister Evans, businesses are stepping up” Ms Read said.

The Centre’s role will be to support and mentor these businesses to become better product stewards by providing practical guidance, decision-making tools, training and development opportunities such as masterclasses for executives, webinars and one on one mentoring”, said Ms Read.

“The Centre will also work closely with existing product stewardship schemes and initiatives, to help them address free rider issues, logistics challenges, generate greater consumer engagement and foster best practice.

“We will be establishing a product stewardship network for businesses, government, product stewardship organisations, not-for-profit entities and research institutions to share knowledge, learnings and experiences to foster best practice, help resolve common issues and inform the Centre’s research projects”, Ms Read said.

The Centre will also be working closely with and providing objective and independent advice to the Australian Government and all jurisdictions on the effectiveness of product stewardship across Australia and priority areas for action.

“Product stewardship in Australia has so far reduced the environmental and human health impacts of machine lubricant oils, televisions and computers, mobile phones and accessories, agriculture and veterinary chemical containers, paint, tyres, microbeads and beverage containers.

“However, there is still a lot to be done in many other product classes such as clothing, plastic products and packaging in agriculture and construction, furniture, carpets, mattresses, lighting, photovoltaic systems, consumer packaging, white goods, toys, batteries, power tools and outdoor equipment.

“To foster excellence further, I am pleased to announce the Centre will be launching its Australian Product Stewardship Excellence Awards later this year.  The Awards will celebrate and acknowledge the people, products, materials, companies, schemes and organisations that demonstrate best practice in product and materials stewardship.

“Product stewardship is all about manufacturers, importers and retailers taking responsibility in designing-out waste, making products more durable, repairable and recyclable and providing customers with easily accessible and affordable options for disposing their product at the end of its life.

“It is our intent that our activities and outreach will be of relevance and value to industry-wide schemes, individual companies, organisations and governments at all levels seeking to implement a strong stewardship approach,” Ms Read said.


To view a transcript and video of this webinar, click here.

The Honourable Sussan Ley MP, the Minister for the Environment

Minister’s Product List 2020-21

The Minister for the Environment has listed several classes of product in accordance with the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 in respect of the 2020-21 financial year.

Listed classes of products are those for which the Minister will consider, during 2020-21, whether some form of accreditation or regulation under the Act might be appropriate.

Child safety car seats have been included in the list for the first time.

Plastic microbeads and products containing them, batteries, photovoltaic systems, electrical and electronic products, and plastic oil containers are all retained in the list for 2020-21.

These classes of products are the highest priorities for consideration for product stewardship approaches.

Read more here.

Logo of Australian Government Accredited Product Stewardship Scheme

Accreditation of voluntary product stewardship arrangements

Developing and promoting industry-led product stewardship schemes has received a boost through the Government’s new voluntary product stewardship framework. The Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 includes several changes that will help stimulate great uptake of voluntary product stewardship initiatives in Australian.

The changes mark a new phase in supporting industry-led schemes and programs, and will:

  • allow the minister to table a statement in Parliament regarding the operation, performance and coverage of accredited arrangements
  • reduce the cost of voluntary accreditation
  • allow eligible organisations to apply at any time for accreditation

The benefits of accreditation have the potential to make a real difference by maximising industry-wide participation. Accredited voluntary arrangements will also help to demonstrate meaningful sustainability claims when competing in government procurement activities, while also building confidence and trust among consumers that a scheme is achieving measurable environmental outcomes.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said the Centre of Excellence will go beyond just providing advice to industry and encourage product stewardship schemes to seek voluntary accreditation under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020.

“On Monday night we welcomed an additional two schemes to join Mobile Muster as voluntarily accredited under the Australian Government’s world leading waste export ban: Tyre Stewardship Australia and Big Bag Recovery,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“Voluntary accreditation demonstrates an industry’s commitment to sustainability and gives the public confidence that the industry is working to reduce any negative impact of their products.

“In the near future, consumers will be able to look out for the Australian Government tick of approval for accredited product stewardship schemes on packaging and products.

Visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website for more information about the application process to become an accredited voluntary product stewardship arrangement.

The Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence can also provide some assistance and guidance to companies and organisations interested in applying for accreditation. You can send your questions to the Centre via the Contact page.

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