Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme Annual Report 2015–16

​​​Section 75 of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 requires the regulator to, as soon as practicable after the end of each financial year, prepare a report on the operation of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme during the year.

This annual report covers the operation of the WELS Scheme from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

Background

The objectives of the Act are to:

  • conserve water supplies by reducing water consumption
  • provide information for purchasers of water-use and water-saving products
  • promote the adoption of efficient and effective water-use and water-saving technologies.

The Act and corresponding state and territory legislation provide for the operation of the WELS Scheme. The Australian Government administers the scheme on behalf of the other governments.

Through the scheme, information on the water efficiency and general performance of waterusing and watersaving products is provided to consumers, allowing informed choice to be made regarding water use. As a result, domestic water savings in the order of 100 gigalitres per annum are now being realised nationally. These savings are projected to increase to 204 gigalitres per annum by 2030 with the replacement of products by more efficient models.

It is estimated that water efficiency improvements have resulted in consumers saving $520 million annually in household utility bills (e.g. water, electricity and gas). These savings are projected to increase to $2 billion per annum by 2030.

Dishwashers, clothes washing machines, taps, showers, lavatories, urinals and flow controllers are all covered by the scheme. To be legally supplied, these products must meet the performance and testing requirements of the WELS standard, and must be registered and labelled correctly.

Operation of the scheme

General

On 6 April 2016, Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand jointly published a new standard for waterusing products: AS/NZS 6400:2016 Water Efficient Products—Rating and Labelling. In order to incorporate this new standard within the scheme, work was undertaken to enable a new Determination to be made early in 2016–17.

Following the second independent review of the WELS Scheme, which was completed in June 2015, a joint government response to the review’s recommendations and the 2016–2019 WELS Scheme Strategic Plan was prepared in consultation with all governments. All states and territories have agreed to the strategic plan.

During 2015–16, the administration of the Act was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources from the Department of the Environment. A project to migrate the WELS database as part of this transfer was progressed, with the actual migration scheduled to occur early in 2016–17.

Assistance was directly provided to product manufacturers and suppliers, particularly giving guidance on product registrations, through telephone and online enquiries.

As at 30 June 2016, there were 16 017 products registered under the WELS Scheme.

Compliance and enforcement

The Act requires that all products be registered and labelled at all points in the supply chain.

Overall compliance with WELS obligations is high and continues to improve, with a growing group of suppliers integrating WELS requirements into their business processes to ensure compliance. In 2015–16 compliance activities focused on the whole of the supply chain and internet-based sales.

All inspections and follow-up enforcement actions were undertaken in accordance with the department’s compliance and enforcement policy.

Financial

Total fee revenue collected from the registration of WELS products during 2015–16 was $1.328 million1.

1 Department of Agriculture and Water Resources figures only.

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