Minister warns mattress, tyre industry

Makers and importers of mattresses and tyres will have to ensure the items can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way under federal government changes.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has added the products, as well as plastics in healthcare products, to an official "product stewardship priority list".

This will force the makers and importers to take responsibility for the impact of their products on the environment across the entire life cycle of the items.

"The priority list makes our intentions clear - if industry does not act, the government will," Ms Plibersek said on Tuesday.

While industry-led initiatives for tyre and mattress recycling exist, not enough businesses participate, the government said.

"Around half of tyre importers do not contribute financially to the current Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme so more needs to be done," Ms Plibersek said.

"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."

Healthcare waste, such as rapid test plastics, became even more problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister said that if makers and importers don't take action, the government will consider regulatory measures.

The government said the list goes beyond recycling because it encourages producers to consider how the design, manufacture, import, sale, use and recovery of materials and products can be changed to improve environmental outcomes.

Products already on the list include solar panels, electrical and electronic products, child car seats, oil containers, clothing textiles and problematic plastics.

This week is National Recycling Week.