Extended Producer Responsibility, Explained in Detail, as Quickly as Possible
It’s easy to blame consumers for buying too much. For throwing too much away. For throwing the wrong things away. But the truth is, waste management is everyone’s problem. And ‘everyone’ includes the producers of that waste.
Enter Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
We’ve spoken about EPR before, but Ellen MacArthur fairly recently put a call out for its implementation, and we feel strongly about it, so we decided to visit the topic again and explain it in a bit more detail.
With more detail, comes more understanding, and with more understanding, change happens. First up, a quick recap on what EPR is.
A mechanism that ensures producers do enough to help curb our waste problem. A large part of why they don’t help in the first place is because they’re not the ones responsible for cleaning up the mess they create. EPR ensures that they are, and that they do. How?
Under EPR, producers are forced to pay for the collection, sorting, and recycling of the waste they create, instead of leaving it up to the consumer. As a green recovery tactic, nothing could be quite as effective as EPR in improving our recycling numbers.
So, How Does EPR Funding Work?
There are three EPR funding mechanisms (public, voluntary, and mandatory). Of those three, mandatory funding is the only mechanism that is dedicated, ongoing, and sufficient, three stipulations that ensure the economic viability of collection, sorting, and recycling, and that the scheme is structural, sustainable, and resilient.
Transparency, and Other Benefits of EPR
EPR takes care of the money side of collection, sorting and recycling, but it does so much more than that. With EPR, producers have more incentive to be transparent in the way they do business (from design to disposal).
They also have the opportunity to be more efficient (now that they are responsible for waste disposal, they are encouraged to rethink their packaging and find more recyclable or more durable options).
EPR so Far
Many companies (including Nestle Philippines), governments, and even emerging markets are showing their support for mandatory EPR schemes, so we should see more development and implementation coming soon, especially with Ellen MacArthur’s recent endorsement.
Of course, while we need mandatory EPR so that funding is dedicated, ongoing, and sufficient, we also need businesses and brands to take it a step further and ask themselves a few questions.
Questions like, do we really need all this packaging? Do we need packaging at all? What can we do without? You see, for the circular economy to work, all materials need to stay in the loop.
Are you a producer or business that has put EPR in place? If so, we’d love to hear about the changes you’ve made.