Media Release

​Topping up our water WELS with eBay cooperation​

13 November 2015

The Australian Government has today started the largest ever online compliance operation of its kind, teaming up with eBay to clean up the murky world of water efficiency labelling of products sold online.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, said the joint endeavour with eBay would deliver significant benefits to Australian consumers. 

“By 2021 it is estimated that using water efficient products will help to reduce domestic water use by more than 100,000 megalitres each year, and save Australians more than one billion dollars through reduced water and energy bills,” Minister Ruston said. 
“Australia’s water efficiency labelling scheme, or WELS, delivers water efficiency information to consumers so they can make informed choices to reduce water usage and bills when purchasing domestic products that use water.

“Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, so it’s important for us all to strive to find ways to bring our consumption down.

“Less than one per cent of the more than 30,000 relevant listings on eBay comply with our water efficiency labelling requirements. This represents a massive amount of water and money needlessly going down the drain for consumers who may think they’re using efficient and environmentally friendly products.

“While we’ve managed to make sure the vast majority of conventional retailers do the right thing, online sellers, particularly those overseas selling into the Australian market, have a shockingly low level of compliance with our labelling requirements.

“People deserve to make purchasing decisions at face value based on information presented on the label—which is why the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is working with eBay to raise compliance.

“From today, eBay will be writing to all sellers of in-home water-consuming products on eBay Australia to inform them that they will have 28 days to ensure that their listings comply with Australian laws. After that, eBay will take action against non-compliant listings and sellers.” 

Minister Ruston said WELS and water efficient products had already delivered massive water savings in Australia, complementing the other work being done to secure Australia’s water future.

“The water savings delivered from more efficient products will by 2021 equate to over 800,000 megalitres (around 1.6 million Olympic swimming pools); and reduce total greenhouse gas output by 400,000 tonnes each year—equivalent to taking 90,000 cars off the road each year,” Minister Ruston said.

“It also frees up water resources for further agricultural and environmental benefits—which underpins our way of life through the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the natural environment we enjoy.

“That is why we are investing $2.5 million dollars every day in the future of agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin through infrastructure upgrades. It is the largest investment in water infrastructure in Australian history.

“Through these investments in water infrastructure and reduced domestic consumption we’re working to secure our water future, so that every Australian reaps the benefits of this precious resource.”

For more information on Australia’s water efficiency labelling scheme and the benefits it delivers to Australians, visit:​.