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Appendix H: Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme annual report 2018–19

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

The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme Annual Report 2018–19 covers the operation of the WELS scheme from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.


The objectives of the WELS 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 WELS 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. Costs of administering WELS are largely covered through registration fees, with a target of 80% cost recovery from industry. A further 10% is recovered from state and territory governments, with 10% from the Commonwealth.

Through the scheme, information is provided to consumers on the water efficiency and general performance of water-using and water-saving products, allowing an informed choice to be made regarding water use. As a result, domestic water savings in the order of 122 gigalitres per annum are now being realised nationally. These savings are projected to increase to 231 gigalitres per annum by 2036 as products are replaced with more efficient models.

It is estimated that water efficiency improvements are resulting in consumer savings of
$1.1 billion per annum in household utility bills (water, electricity and gas). These savings are projected to increase to $2.6 billion per annum by 2036.

Dishwashers, clothes washing machines, taps, showers, lavatories, urinals and flow controllers are all covered by the WELS 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 WELS scheme


In early 2018 Australia secured international support for the establishment of a new International Organization for Standardization (ISO) project committee on water efficiency with Standards Australia as secretariat. The project committee for ISO PC (Project Committee) 316 has since held 2 meetings, in Australia and Switzerland, to facilitate the development of a new international standard on water efficiency labelling. The standard is expected to be completed in 2021.

An internationally consistent standard is expected to decrease costs for Australian businesses, improve access to overseas markets for Australian manufacturers, increase compliance with the WELS scheme in Australia, and provide a tool that can be used by other countries to reduce water use by implementing similar consumer labelling schemes.

We published 3 issues of the WELS scheme newsletter InkWELS, with information about the latest developments with WELS and highlights of our achievements.

The Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney completed an evaluation of the environmental and economic impacts of the WELS scheme. The evaluation estimated water and utility bill savings were slightly greater than expected based on earlier analyses.

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

As at 30 June 2019 there were 30,905 products registered by more than 370 organisations, including manufacturers, importers and wholesalers. This consisted of 27,860 registrations (22,338 products and 5,522 variants) and 3,045 ceasing registrations (2,874 products and 171 variants) under the WELS scheme.

This compares to 28,815 products registered as at 30 June 2019, consisting of 24,981 registrations and 3,834 ceasing registrations. Details of all registered WELS products are searchable on the WELS website.

Compliance and enforcement

The WELS Act requires that all products be registered and labelled at all points in the supply chain. The approach to our compliance strategy with the WELS legislation is outlined in the WELS Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

In 2018–19 WELS compliance activities continued to focus on internet-based sales and on the building and property development industry. Internal decision processes and escalation pathways were used to address non-compliance identified by WELS inspectors.

The joint compliance program with eBay continued to work effectively, with more than 100 non-compliant sellers reported to eBay. As a result, 17 seller accounts were restricted from selling WELS products to Australia, and more than 100 sellers were educated in how to comply with WELS registration and labelling requirements.

We have initiated a similar program with Amazon Australia to improve the level of compliance on amazon.com.au. Amazon Australia is working to design and implement tools that will identify and remove non-compliant WELS products on this platform. In the interim, compliance officers identified and reported 34 non-compliant sellers to Amazon Australia and these sellers’ products were removed from sale.

WELS inspectors had 188 open cases, which included 34 cases carried over from 2017–18 and 154 new cases that were identified directly through online searches, store inspections and from a number of allegations from industry and the public. Since January 2018, 94% of these entities’ businesses became compliant after education and warnings from WELS staff or escalation to statutory actions. The remaining 6% were still being addressed at the end of June 2019.

We completed the first phase of the new property building program with inspections held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra. Follow-up inspections will commence in late 2019. Communication materials were provided to building and property industry groups, and WELS inspectors shared information and discussed linkages with state and territory building and plumbing regulators.

All inspections and follow-up enforcement actions were undertaken in accordance with the WELS Compliance and Enforcement Policy.


The WELS Strategic Plan 2016–19 set out agreed budgets and projected industry fee revenue. Industry fee revenue in 2018–19 was 6% above the projections (Table 49).

Table 49 WELS industry fee revenue, 2016–17 to 2018–19





Industry fee revenue




Projected fee revenue