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Thursday, 25 September 2008
Page: 5728


Senator Milne asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, upon notice, on 10 July 2008:

(1)   What environmental standard has the Government put in place in regard to the disposal of printer cartridges.

(2)   What education program is in place by the Government to promote their re-use and recycling.

(3)   Is the Minister aware that military-standard encryption microchips are used in some cartridges to prevent them from being re-useable.

(4)   Is the Minister aware that printer cartridge remanufacturing businesses are denied access to the Planet Ark recycling program.

(5)   Is the Minister aware that Planet Ark is crushing usable printer cartridges that could be recycled.


Senator Wong (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   There are no specific Australian standards for the disposal of printer cartridges. While waste management is primarily the responsibility of state, territory and local governments, the Australian Government works in collaboration with the states and territories through the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) to address national priority wastes.

(2)   The Australian Government has no specific education program on printer cartridges in place, rather it has broader environmental education programs such as the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) and encourages recycling and re-use of products more generally, including in the government’s own purchasing practices.         The Australian Government’s Environmental Purchasing Guide (2003) provides guidance for Australian Government departments and agencies on incorporating environmental factors when making procurement decisions. The Environmental Purchasing Checklist suggests environmental purchasing criteria for printers, photocopiers and multi-function devices which include giving consideration to those products that are able to use remanufactured or recycled consumables.

(3)   No, the Minister is not aware whether or not military-standard encryption microchips are being used to prevent some cartridges from being re-useable.

(4)   No, the Minister is not aware whether or not printer cartridge remanufacturing businesses are denied access to the Planet Ark recycling program. Remanufacturing is different to recycling, as it is aimed at re-use of the cartridge. The Planet Ark scheme aims for 100 per cent recycling of printer cartridges with zero waste to landfill.

(5)   The Minister is not aware of whether or not Planet Ark is crushing re-useable printer cartridges.