The Standing Council on Environment and Water has agreed to release the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) on Packaging Impacts for public comment. An extended consultation period over 16 weeks will allow for the Christmas and summer holidays.
The Consultation RIS provides the opportunity for an informed debate on options to address packaging waste. It considers options to improve resource recovery and reduce litter associated with a wide range of consumer packaging, including food wrappers and beverage containers.
The options include container deposit schemes, industry-funded schemes that may be co-regulated under the Product Stewardship Act 2011(Cwth), and nationally consistent government initiatives. In recognition of the differing views held by stakeholders, Ministers incorporated one option proposed by environmental groups and one option proposed by industry.
Ministers acknowledged the important input of environment groups and industry in formulating the seven options in the consultation paper.
The analysis includes a base case which recognises existing packaging recovery and litter reduction systems, including the long-standing South Australian container deposit scheme and the implementation of the Northern Territory container deposit scheme; the servicing of most Australian households by kerbside recycling; and the Australian Packaging Covenant.
Ministers emphasised that the Consultation RIS does not include a preferred approach and that stakeholder input was vital in testing a range of approaches. The Council recognised that assessment of the costs and benefits of options has many dimensions and cannot be based on quantifiable matters alone.
The Consultation RIS acknowledges other potential benefits of better managed packaging, including the employment generated by more recycling, reduced use of energy and water, and the provision of infrastructure to support other recycling.
Public forums on the Consultation RIS will be held in February 2012 in capital cities around Australia as well as Bunbury WA, Albury NSW and Townsville QLD. Responses are sought by 30 March 2012.
The release of the Consultation RIS is a key step in the Council of Australian Governments process for considering national regulation.
Ministers noted the peer review by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), and that the Commonwealth Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) has assessed the Consultation RIS as meeting COAG requirements.
The Standing Council on Environment and Water comprises Commonwealth, state and territory and the New Zealand environment and water ministers and the Australian Local Government Association. It was established as part of recent COAG reforms to Ministerial Councils.
The Council incorporates the National Environment Protection Council and replaces the Environment Protection and Heritage Council.
The Consultation RIS and all associated documents are now available here
or from the Standing Council on Environment and Water Secretariat (SCEW.Secretariat@environment.gov.au)