Extended Producer Responsibility – Comparing Different Schemes

The establishment and use of extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes has emerged as a key strategy in advancing waste management and the propagation of the circular economy. Under an EPR scheme, financial incentives are applied to encourage manufacturers to design environmentally friendly products by holding producers responsible for the costs of managing their products at the end of their life. An EPR scheme is based on the principle that manufacturers (usually brand owners) have the greatest control over product design and marketing and the greatest ability and responsibility to reduce toxicity and waste.

Such schemes may take the form of a reuse, buyback, or recycling programmes. The respective producer may also choose to delegate this responsibility to a third party, a so-called producer responsibility organisation (PRO), which is paid by the producer for used-product management. In this way, EPR shifts the responsibility for waste management from government to private industry, obliging producers, importers and/or sellers to internalise waste management costs in their product prices and ensure the safe handling of their products.

Within and outside the European Union various EPR schemes are in use, each of which having its own advantages and disadvantages. At the request of the Landbell, adelphi conducted a comparative performance assessment of different EPR schemes in use, thereby focusing on WEEE, waste packaging and waste batteries. The findings of the assessment compiled in form a comparative study provides guidance to decision makers in private and public sector, who are interested in setting up or propagating an EPR scheme.

Publications of this project