What does Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) mean?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Waste management is an area we desperately need to focus on, and policies like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) help us do that. According to UNEP, we produce roughly 400 million tonnes of plastic waste annually.  

Voluntary action, however, is not enough to tackle plastic waste. The private sector has an important role to play in waste management, and EPR policies could be the answer because they place responsibility and accountability on the producers. 

About Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

In simple terms, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy which makes producers responsible for the complete life cycle of products they bring into the market. This life span includes from when they are designed until the end of their life. 

More and more countries are introducing EPR regulations, and under these regulations, they must mitigate the environmental impacts of their products over their life span. This includes recycling and waste collection. 

EPR regulations were first introduced to tackle issues such as the growing volume of waste. Moreover, to handle the rising costs of waste collections for residents and the loss of valuable resources. 

Legal requirements for EPR in Europe cover electronic waste, packaging, end-of-life vehicles, and portable batteries. Several countries across the globe also have EPR regulations for furniture, tyres, paper, and engine oils. Slowly but surely, EPR regulations are increasing to cover more products too. 

What Does EPR Mean For Producers?

For producers whose countries have adopted EPR legislation, some things that will be required of you include registering and reporting duties, financing take-back and recycling schemes, and financial guarantees. 

Additionally, you will be required to adhere to physical take-back obligations and design criteria and provide information for both customers and recyclers. To manage EPR, you can join a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO). The organisation will take on the EPR obligations for you. 

Many companies take this approach, but some also manage EPR on their own. The concept behind EPR is to successfully close the loop, increase your business’s economic and environmental potential and make the most of your resources. All in all, to be EPR compliant, you need to register to receive your number. 

This will act as your proof to your marketplace. Additionally, you have to declare your sales to your PRO for reporting. Finally, you need to pay your PRO. The amount will depend on your product category, product attributes, device type, and the weight of units or the number of units you have sold. 

Summary

Essentially, regulations like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) are strategic policy approaches that create accountability for managing and handling resources. EPR ensures manufacturers and producers take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their packaging and products. 

Ultimately, EPR regulations enable producers to prioritise packaging design and management to keep waste from entering our oceans. Only positive environmental outcomes can occur from EPR regulations. 

EPR regulations are pivotal to achieving the UN’s SDG #12 of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. It’s all about being more responsible with resource management, and there are plenty of benefits for producers adhering to legislation. 

For more information on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), visit OECD

For an overview of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and how your business can implement the correct procedures in line with OECD and other recommendations, consider taking the Diploma in Business Sustainability.

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