Make Polluters Pay For Recycling With EPR ♻️ Podcast Ep. 7 Don’t Be A Waster

 

 

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In this episode of our podcast we look at Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and ask if this can help us recycle and reduce waste. EPR is when a producer has to pay in some form to dispose of products also.

Transcript – Make Polluters Pay For Recycling With EPR

Hello and welcome to another edition of what I hope is fast becoming your favourite recycling podcast. I’m not sure how many recycling podcasts there are out there in the market but yeah I hope this one will find a space on your you know in your weekly listening to keep up to date with all things recycling oriented certainly with an Australian perspective potentially with an Irish accent but with an Australian perspective but obviously be touched on topics that cover nearly all countries so in today’s episode of recycle don’t be a Waster I want to talk about a concept that you’ll be hearing much more about in I suppose over the next couple of years five years or so and that is what is called EPR meaning extended product or producer responsibility.

So what is this concept fundamentally the concept is when you go into a store and you buy even the most simple product you purchase a bottle of soft drink so you buy a bottle of your favourite soft drink whether it’s from the Coca-Cola company or Pepsi cola or one of the other big manufacturers and you drink the drink and you throw away the bottle and the plastic bottle you if you do the right thing you put it into your recycling bin but oftentimes there may not be one available so in very many cases that that product may end up in in general waste you know this applies to so many so many aspects of things so many pretty much every manufactured good that that you can purchase but I suppose the question is you’ve gone and bought your soft drink let’s just say for simplicity it costs a dollar that product cost a dollar the manufacturing of the plastic container cost a couple of cents at the most and there’s a lot of profit in it for the manufacturer.

 

The question is disposing of that product disposing of that bottle who actually pays for it in nearly all cases let’s say 99.9 percent of cases it’s not the company that manufactures the product so we have what economists here call an externality issue somebody is producing a product that serves one purpose and that is to contain the soft drink just long enough to be put in the fridge for you to purchase it for you to drink it and then to throw it away it serves no other purpose and that’s all the manufacturer to a large extent thinks about the obviously I’m generalizing here we can you know a lot of big corporations do put effort into you know manufacturing and using more recycled materials but the general gist of what we’re trying to get at here is that when you have a manufactured product it serves its purpose it’s disposed of but the disposing of it the recycling of it the you know the taking the useful materials from that product all those aspects nobody really thinks about it.

 

No one has to think about them the manufacturer has no legal responsibility in many countries once the product is you know has left their shelves that’s you know obviously there’s quality control issues they have to make sure it’s health and safety compliant but the disposal of it the recycling of it the environmental aspect of that product is really not their concern in many cases and this is where extended producer responsibility EPR comes into the question you know this I suppose the concept is that the person who makes something has to consider the life cycle of that product and the life cycle doesn’t just mean it’s useful life it also means the destruction or the disposing or the recycling of the materials of the container of the packaging of whatever it’s made from.

 


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Make Polluters Pay For Recycling. If you have to consider what is done with this product the way it would be disposed of you know that really changes the financial the economic you know all the commercial you know proposition of making something you know let’s take the example so say you can put it into a glass a glass container the glass container would be more expensive to transport because it’s heavier it’s probably more expensive to make and certainly transporting it is heavier all those aspects you might have more breakage in shipping but the disposing of it the recycling of that material is probably cheaper if you really capture all the economic negatives you know versus plastic so with a glass container it won’t it won’t you know form part of the pacific garbage patch it won’t break down into microplastics it won’t enter the food stream it won’t cause it won’t sit around in the environment for thousands of years polluting whereas with glass it’s easier to recycle it can be recycled indefinitely. Make Polluters Pay For Recycling

 

 

Make Polluters Pay For Recycling. It’s a sterile material so it doesn’t poison or poison the atmosphere or sorry the environment or animals and so there’s potentially the long-term economic cost to dispose of glass is lower versus the versus plastic so it completely changes the economic rationale behind choosing one product versus another so the movement towards EPR really is trying to make sure that the manufacturer considers the long-term cost of the materials they choose they consider the ability to recycle them the cost of doing it and you know tries to capture that in the decision-making at the start because if we don’t consider the long-term cost of doing something you know we tend to do it too much you know we throw away items that in reality have value or cost and so in this instance what you know you could take the example you could take the example of legislation and there’s many different methods that companies are going down this line of extended EPR some are voluntary some are more mandatory some more I suppose voluntary before they become monetary and those aspects. Make Polluters Pay For Recycling

 

 

make polluters pay

 

Make Polluters Pay For Recycling. A lot of the bigger manufacturers particularly in Europe north America they’re starting to really consider these items these aspects and you’ll see this whereby manufacturers are starting to invest in their own in-house recycling programs their own in-house recycling collection programs or really looking into putting in place better more recyclable materials you know in those products so the example we could give would be Nespresso pods coffee pods are notoriously difficult to recycle for the fundamental reason that they are you know you’ll hear this again and again in our podcast they’re products made from more than one material they can be made from a plastic I suppose a plastic pod covered by an aluminium top and when you get those combinations of materials and obviously then filled with organic compound you know in the coffee beans or the coffee grounds when you get stuff like that it’s very difficult to recycle so companies such as Nespresso are taking the lead and working with other companies like Terracycle and similar to offer collection facilities for those pods to ensure not to insure but to offer the option of recycling them which is a longer term product stewardship is another term people use it’s a methodology of capturing internalizing that external cost and taking ownership off it so when they’re making something they’re considering the longer term impact of it.

 

You’ll see this I think you’re going to see this increasing in so many consumer aspects certainly in the single-use plastic aspects certainly in drinks soft drinks containers I think you’ll see it with the big corporations I think you’ll start to see it in products like beauty products toothpastes those sort of aspects you know whereby the manufacturers tend to be very large corporates you know with large research departments who can look into solutions and you know is it I don’t have the stats in front of me but I’ve read previously that you know of single-use plastic or if the plastic that enters our oceans you know say 50 is made by let’s say 10 corporations mega corporations and obviously the people who buy it who dispose of it is their responsibility but you know when you’re manufacturing a product do you think that the person who manufactures it should also consider the environmental aspects of its disposal you know I think I think that’s a rational argument I think you can certainly make the argument forward and clearly the best option would be if the companies making things you know did that themselves and voluntarily looked into product stewardship and those sort of aspects. Make Polluters Pay For Recycling

 

I think you know the way the world works I think increasingly you will see governments and you know even international organizations pushing for more legal frameworks behind this sort of stuff you know I think you’re going to certainly see it in those product materials or consumer products simple ones that I’ve mentioned but I think you’ll also see it in aspects such as e-waste you know machines and consumer gadgets I think you will start seeing legislation dictating that they have to be recycled in easier manners manufactured in ways that they can be recycled and also putting in place systems whereby probably the manufacturers or the retailers have to pay to some extent to recycle them or to ensure that a certain aspect or proportion of them don’t end up in landfill and end up actually recycled the way we hope they are like I’ll be honest I’m not the biggest believer in the effectiveness of legislation oftentimes it just layers more red tape on top of people but it’s a tricky one.

 

I think can we rely on corporations who are profit focused to take the lead and to really reduce packaging you know or to take ownership of it like I’d be honest you probably can’t anybody who like to me it still amazes me that you can walk into a supermarket anywhere in the world and near the end of 2021 I’m recording this in December 20-21 and the amount of plastic on shelves it hasn’t decreased plastic packaging that in many regards is superfluous in many regards doesn’t add anything to the appeal of safe fruit or veg but it’s still in plastic bags and plastic packages we’ve known about this problem for years and nobody seems to make any make any headway in reducing it so you’d have to be doubtful that corporations of their own bat will make that change and so in that gap as government always does if they see an opportunity to increase their you know their presence I think they will I so I’ll forecast my prediction is in the next five to ten years you’ll see government legislation dictating that manufacturing whether local or imported has to have EPR element. Make Polluters Pay For Recycling

 

That EPR element will increase certainly will increase over time and again the other reason it will increase is our waste problems are getting bigger the pacific garbage patch and I mentioned that one but there’s many other conglomerations of floating debris that’s just the most famous one and it’s the most famous because it’s the largest but I think there’s like five or six other ones so this problem is not going away this problem will only increase in severity and you know that will make it more it will raise the you know raise the alert level let’s say for consumers for you know advocacy groups for governments you know for authorities to really have to start to look at this stuff plastic pollution is something that I think you know I think a lot of people have focused on the environment as in co2 and global warming but I think the destruction of habitats and the certainly the proliferation of plastic packaging I think is something that we will really take more focus on in the next the years ahead so okay there’s a heads up check out for EPR when you hear about it you’ll know what it is you know and I’ll be of course as always here on recycles don’t be a Waster I’d be interested in having your feedback or just hearing what you think about this topic any topic topics you’d like me to discuss in the future and obviously our intention here is as we grow our grow our listenership get some you know more listeners to per podcast etc we intend to bring on guests you know guests on the show who can we can chat with people who might know certain things about recycling or you know have views on the topic so yeah that’s our intention over time I think at the beginning we have to just you know get started I think this is our sixth or seventh podcast just build get into it easily and then over time we’ll become yeah we’ll just expand that conversation and bring more people on so I’ll leave it there today have a great weekend bye

 

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