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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed a levy on paint products to help fund the National Paint Product Stewardship Scheme.

The Paint Stewardship Scheme aims to promote the safe disposal of all waste architectural and decorative paint by both domestic and trade consumers. ACCC’s draft determination proposes to authorise the Australian Paint Manufacturers' Federation, Paint Stewardship Limited and certain paint manufacturers to introduce a 15 cents per litre levy (plus GST) to support the scheme.

The Federation represents paint manufacturers responsible for over 90 per cent (by volume) of paint sold in Australia.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard observes that unused, leftover or waste architectural and decorative paint often contains hazardous chemicals, which can pose a risk to the environment from improper disposal. She explained that there will be better use of resources because the price of disposing paint will more accurately reflect its real cost to society. The ACCC believes that the levy will result in environmental benefits by reducing the improper disposal of waste paint.

To replace the household hazardous chemical disposal programs currently run by State and Territory governments, the Paint Stewardship Scheme will see a significant expansion in waste paint disposal schemes and will also extend collection services to new fixed and mobile sites.

According to Richard Phillips, Executive Director of the Australian Paint Manufacturers' Federation, the primary consumers of paint in Australia can be divided between trade and domestic consumers. Though there are State, Territory and Local Government funded programs, which can collect domestic waste A&D paint, most of these programs do not accept trade waste A&D paint. Even if the waste paint is accepted, a fee is usually charged, which creates a disincentive for trade users, resulting in significant, unsafe stockpiles of trade A&D paint with intermittent disposals to landfill.

By the end of the authorisation period, the Paint Stewardship Scheme aims to provide a collection point for waste architectural and decorative paint within a reasonable distance of 85 per cent of Australia’s population. The proposed levy on paint manufacturers’ sales of architectural and decorative paint will fund the Paint Stewardship Scheme.

The ACCC proposes to grant authorisation until 1 June 2021 and will seek submissions from interested parties before making a final decision.

Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.