Extended Producer Responsibility: 5 main causes for ineffectiveness

Source: European Recycling Platform

Fontainebleau, France — Waste is increasingly considered as a potential source of revenue. Unfortunately, legislation has largely failed to adapt to this fundamental paradigm shift and this has lead to an inefficient and partially dysfunctional market hampering the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR).

Indeed, a wide range of stakeholders (producers, producer responsibility organizations, waste operators, national authorities, municipalities, trade associations, clearing houses, national registers, retailers, environmental and consumer NGOs) and particularly those involved with WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) face a number of issues in order to comply with EPR requirements.

A new white paper analysis of stakeholder issues points out that the evolution of EPR and the concerns associated with it „may be driven by a narrow view focusing on short-term solutions, while stable and lasting solutions may require a bigger-picture perspective that requires understanding and hedging the dynamics of markets and legal environments for EPR.“

In short, the business and legal environments surrounding EPR legislation remain extremely dynamic and will continue to change and evolve, creating new pressures on the stakeholders. In this perspective, the white paper prepared by INSEAD Social Innovation Centre with the support of European Recycling Platform identifies five main causes that currently limit or disrupt the stability and effectiveness of EPR systems:

  1. Commodity dynamics – the dynamics of commodity markets affect the competition for access to waste;
  2. Volume dynamics – the behaviour or economics of municipalities and non-EPR waste actors, as well as the consumption behaviour of consumers, create uncertainty as to the waste volumes available to PROs under EPR;
  3. Competition dynamics – the dynamics of commodity markets also affect how competition between PROs or waste operators is shaped;
  4. Regulatory dynamics – the legislative environment creates instability through inconsistent or ineffective enforcement or, for example, collection targets that are set too high, as well as unforeseen changes in legislative implementations;
  5. Design dynamics – producers may substantially change their product designs and make it difficult to predict future processing costs (e.g., with the transition from CRT to LCD displays); on the other hand, design changes for easier recycling and treatment may help PROs and waste operators gain more value.

The full paper can be downloaded from erp-recycling.org.

Source: European Recycling Platform (ERP)