Everything You Should Know About Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) ♻️
Extended Producer Responsibility EPR ♻️: Who do we think should be responsible for our produced waste? Should it be the consumers, which they already are because that is where some of their taxes go? EPR says differently. Continue reading through the blog to learn more.
As a consumer, one often does not think about the product they already consumed. Those aware know that the process takes a lot of work and is very important for the sustainability of the environment.
Recycling involves a step-by-step process that involves collecting recyclables, separating and finally recycling the items in a large recycling facility. That is what we usually know.
However, we should take note that someone has to pay for the recycling process to happen. And, as mentioned above, it is usually the taxpayers’ money or the business disposing of the rubbish that compensates for it. Please see a podcast on this topic here.
The Extended Producer Responsibility or simply the EPR concept disagrees with this setup and has a good reason to do so. Below, we discuss its importance to sustainability.
A bit about Waster
Before we continue our topic on Extender Producer Responsibility or EPR, let me share more information about Waster.
We here at Waster provide you with innovative solutions for your and your business’s waste management and recycling needs. Additionally, we provide flexible, 30-day contracts instead of the typical lock-in contracts, which proves to be better.
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Defining Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) places the financial, and even physical, responsibility to producers, manufacturers or even retailers in making sure of post-consumer products’ disposal and repurposing.
For an easier understanding, the concept simply means that those who created the product should make sure it is properly disposed of and recycled in an easier manner and less-costly way. As a result of this, the system itself makes the product life cycle circular, produce less waste and done in a more efficient manner.
Additionally, it also helps deal with hazardous waste because it requires brands to monitor and control their product design as needed, which results in a safer-produced item that may otherwise harm the environment when disposed of in landfills. This certainly can help in dealing with hazardous waste such as batteries, spray paint cans and more.
This concept originated from Sweden in 1990 by Thomas Lindhqvist, submitting it as a report to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment.
Is it the same as Product Stewardship?
Before answering that question, we first define product stewardship.
Basically, product stewardship has the same concept as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and lets the government, different industries and even consumers take the helm in managing costs of products from their conception to end of life whilst implementing sustainable practices on them.
Although the same in concept, they differ mainly because the Product Stewardship policy approach includes governments in shared responsibilities, whereas Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR only requires the manufacturers themselves to calculate costs internally and integrate the cost of recycling and/or sustainability practices into the product price.
Are there any Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes available in Australia?
With all that said, can we find this scheme all across Australia? Well, the answer to that is – thankfully – yes.
Here in Australia, we have the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001. Basically, this act aims to and promotes avoiding waste and strengthening resource recovery efforts to achieve “zero-waste” – or at least reduce waste to a sustainable number.
So naturally, the NSW government rightfully supported (and continues to support) initiatives done under the National Waste Policy. Nationwide initiatives are greatly encouraged by them because “many products are sold in national markets and are problematic in all jurisdictions.”
One of the more famous examples of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme is the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. Founded in 2011, it was introduced for Australia to have an industry-funded recycling scheme intended for, of course, televisions and computers. As a result of this Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme, a significantly lesser amount of disposed of televisions and computers all over Australia did not go to Australian landfills.
Currently, four organisations deliver recycling services under the said scheme, which includes:
Check out our blog on Officeworks recycling for more information on recycling e-waste (TVs and computers included).
There are other examples aside from the Television and Computer Recycling Scheme.
Another example would be the voluntary Australian Packaging Covenant, a scheme that aims to reduce the environmental impact of packaging across Australia. This covenant mainly focuses on designing sustainable packaging, recycling used packaging and rubbish reduction caused by packaging.
Supermarkets have also kicked it up a notch and implemented schemes to take back waste and recycle them, which you can read more of in our supermarket recycling blog. ALDI, Woolworths and Coles are prime examples.
ALDI, in particular, can collect both their own and other-store bought batteries for later recycling. In addition, Coles and Woolworths partnered with REDcycle to take back and recycle their plastics. Coles, in particular, partnered up with SecondBite and Foodbank to reduce food waste and provide healthy meals across Australia.
How can consumers help with Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR?
We have stated above that consumers also play a vital role in Product Stewardship. But did you know that the average citizen or consumer can help with the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme even if it mainly falls on manufacturers’ hands?
What they can do is utilise schemes and send the byproduct of their item (i.e., simply waste) back to them for recycling.
What about those who do not have schemes? They can voice out their concerns and urge manufacturing companies to have their own recycling or take-back scheme if they still do not have one yet.
To learn more about Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR, take a look at our video about it.
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