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What is Extended Producer Responsibility?
According to the OECD definition, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is “an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle".
In practice, it implies producers or importers of a product taking up responsibility for the collection, sorting and treatment (e.g. recycling) of their products when they have become waste. As such, industry have to ensure their products do not pose a threat to the environment once they have become waste.
EPR aims at promoting the circular economy by turning waste into resources.
EPR systems are already well established in Europe, in the areas of:
PACKAGING WASTE (e.g. Fost Plus, Eco-Emballages, Nedvang)
E-WASTE (e.g. Recupel, Eco-Systèmes, Wecycle)
BATTERIES (e.g. Bebat, Corepile, Stibat)
END-OF-LIFE VEHICLES (e.g. Febelauto)
Why is setting up a cost-efficient and high performing EPR-scheme so important?
All over the world, demographic and economic growth are putting huge pressure on natural resources. It therefore becomes necessary to develop a resource efficient economy allowing countries to shift from a linear to a circular economy.
Countries need to develop environmental policies improving sustainable production and consumption, promoting reuse, recycling and recovery. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is such an environmental policy approach.
Already over 400 EPR-schemes are currently being operated in the world. Unfortunately, a lot of these schemes are not optimized and consequently do not reach high collection, recycling and/or recovery targets and/or are too expensive.
In order to set up cost-efficient and high performing EPR-schemes, a prerequisite is to clearly define the responsibilities of all involved stakeholders and to set up a partnership between the public and the private sector.
Lessons learnt from successful EPR implementations
EPR can be introduced in various ways. However, some of the best practices in EPR implementation that successfully create wins for all stakeholders include:
EPR-schemes should be set up and run by obliged industry
(i.e. companies who put the products on the market)
EPR-schemes should not be vertically integrated organizations
EPR-schemes should follow a non-for-profit model
Legislators must guarantee the enforcement of the EPR-scheme
Local authorities have to take responsibility for dealing with household waste
Preferably, one single EPR scheme is set up for each product flow (e.g. packaging, e-waste, …)
EPRs should be financed in a sustainable and transparent way
EPRs should have a public service mission
EPRs should promote design for recycling, eco-design, circular economy and the like
What is at stake?
1. For the obliged industry
When political pressure exists and/or will occur in the short- or mid-term, it is of strategic importance for obliged industry, being the party responsible for the end-of-life of their products, to take the lead.
Obliged industry, acting as one, needs to:
Take up its responsibility. If not, others will take over and the system then can become less efficient as well as more expensive for society.
Avoid having the public sector impose state taxes and/or costly wide scale deposit systems or avoid waste operators having to be in charge on their own. Otherwise, the obliged industry will be looking at a uncontrolled and very high costs if those other parties are in charge.
Come up with a business plan, take that plan to the authorities, be pro-active and guarantee a win-win for all stakeholders involved.
Take part in the setting up of the legal framework. There is a necessity to have a sound and enforced legislation with designated responsibilities and competences for each group of stakeholders, leading to a well-functioning Public Private Partnership.
Keep a grip on the operational side of things. Real competition between waste operators needs to be ensured.
2. For the authorities
To deal with household waste in an optimized way, authorities need to establish and roll out a solid integrated waste management plan.
Authorities need to use a mixture of legal, economic and social instruments. A successful legal instrument, already demonstrated in many countries, is the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility.
Drafting challenging, feasible and balanced legislation enables countries to achieve high recycling and recovery targets leading to resource efficiency.
For the local authorities the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility means that a set of costs no longer will be on their budget, because they will be borne by the producers of products and packaging.
How can Green Crossroads help your country develop an efficient EPR-scheme?
Green Crossroads has a team of stellar experts assisting both the authorities and the industry in developing cost-efficient and high performing EPR-schemes for inter alia packing waste, e-waste, end-of-life vehicles and other waste streams.
Green Crossroads believes that in order to achieve environmental and economic excellence EPR-schemes, a set of genuine principles needs to be respected and all parties involved should play their designated roles.
Having guided different countries on a sustainable circular economy path setting up collection, sorting and treatment scenarios for various types of waste, Green Crossroads can help countries developing EPR-schemes in the following areas:
- Legislation development, including national strategy development
- Infrastructure design & accompany works
- Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) design
- Financial modelling
- Marketing & awareness raising
Green Crossroads can assist you from A to Z
Assisting countries can be done in a variety of ways and the type of assistance will depend on each country's specific situation. Some countries might not have any legal framework with regards to waste management yet, others might already have environmental policies in place, but with no EPR-schemes yet in place, while others could have an EPR, however far from cost-efficient nor high performing.
Green Crossroads will, together with the authorities and the industry, analyse and define the action plan and the different areas in which support shall be given.
The following 5 areas are to be dealt with:
1) Legislation development, including national strategy development
A first prerequisite for setting up a good system is a full and clear understanding of the relevant legislation. Based on the legislation, the responsibility of the different actors and the possible lack of clarity in these responsibilities must be identified.
2) Infrastructure design & accompany works
The co-ordination of the collection, sorting and recycling is the core business of most producer responsibility organisations. However, the way this is implemented, strongly depends on local circumstances. Therefore, a good understanding of the existing systems and infrastructure and of the local preconditions concerning the new system is necessary to make the right operational choices. These choices include, above all, the type of products to be collected and the collection and sorting scheme.
3) Producer Responsibility Organization design
It is important to define the vision, mission and the strategy of the Producer Responsibility Organization. It is only then that an organisation chart can be designed. This chart will include the policy level (e.g. board of directors, executive committee) and the staff (management, employees). The dimensions of the organisation and the profile of the people should match the challenges the organisation is facing (e.g. complexity of the environment, operational uncertainties, and financial importance).
4) Financial modelling
A lot of cost-efficient high performing PROs are not-for-profit organisations, aiming to keep the costs at an acceptable level and to balance upon case these costs with income originating from the sales of materials and from the fees charged to the PRO-members in function of the products put on the market. The calculation of these fees is a delicate exercise where different interests must be reconciled. Moreover, to avoid large fluctuations in the fees, a long-term view must be developed, considering the unpredictable evolution of material prices. Bearing in mind PROs fulfil a role of public interest, a solid capital structure is needed to guarantee operational continuity.
5) Marketing & awareness raising
A well-considered marketing and communication strategy is a key success factor when establishing a product recovery organisation. From a simplified point of view, two target groups can be distinguished: the companies that financially contribute to the system and the people and/or companies that must sort their product waste. The focus of marketing & communication depends on the local circumstances and will evolve with time. In the start-up phase of the organisation, the focus will probably be on motivating companies to join the organisation and on motivating people to participate in product waste collection.
When setting up EPR schemes it is of capital importance to always bear in mind that there’s no such thing like a silver bullet, that there is no one size fits all solution, no simple copy-paste of existing schemes in other countries that can be done. One always needs to consider the local circumstances of the country. This rational is being top of mind of our stellar experts.
Launch of an e-waste take-back system in Mauritius
Together with partner SOFRECO, Green Crossroads has been tasked with the setup of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for e-waste management in Mauritius.
The assignment was split into 4 different stages. In the first two stages we thoroughly analysed the e-waste situation in the country and we developed, in close collaboration with the authorities and the industry, a national strategy for e-waste collection & recycling (e.g. setting objectives & targets, drafting the legislative framework, developing a financing mechanism, proposing a governance structure). In the third stage, we calculated the advance recycling fee (ARF), developed an infrastructure development plan and proposed a monitoring & evaluation framework.
Development of a national e-waste management strategy in the D.R. Congo
Together with its partner SOFRECO, Green Crossroads has been tasked with developing and accompanying the implementation of a national e-waste strategy for the D.R. Congo on behalf of the World Bank. The assignment consists of making an inventory of the e-waste that is present in the country, formulating a strategy for e-waste collection at country level, defining the future set-up of a recycling network and accompanying the equipment and construction of an industrial scale recycling center in the D.R.C. Green Crossroads is responsible for the overall management and delivery throughout the different project phases.
Setting up of a plastic recycling plant in Cameroon
Plastics have become the material of choice for a very wide range of packaging because they are lightweight, resistant to outside environmental factors and allow a very easy delivery of products. However, millions of plastic bottles and other containers are left in the environment if no proper recycling systems are in place. In Africa especially, this poses a huge environmental challenge as well as an economic opportunity that remains largely unaddressed to date.
NAMé recycling is a Cameroonian company starting up a PET-plastic recycling operation based in Limbe in the South West of Cameroon. Based on a lean process, NAMé recycling’s involves the collection and recycling of plastic waste, followed by the production and sale of the obtained recycled plastic, having become a raw material again. The end product is re-injected in the Cameroonian and international markets. NAMé Recycling is winner of the Business without borders prize 2015.
Development of a strategy for car recycling in West-Africa
Green Crossroads is working alongside a consortium led by Port of Antwerp International and including various other important members such as Toyota, Belgian industry federation Agoria, Febelauto, OVAM, Galloo, Campine Recycling and WorldLoop. The objective of the consortium is to explore the economic feasibility of car recycling in West-Africa. Green Crossroads is responsible for developing the business case of setting up local dismantling and recycling activities in West Africa and defining a pilot project in Benin, West Africa.
Mapping the regulatory framework for the import, export and recycling of end-of-life cars, actors and economic mechanisms that support import, reuse and recycling activities;
The mapping of material flows through the life cycle of used cars; the analysis of the supply chain of materials for recycling and transformation of raw materials in Africa and Flanders: the analysis of parts, materials, prices, customers, etc.;
The examination of the feasibility of setting up local dismantling operations and the identification of local partners for it;
Developing a business plan for a pilot recycling project and a roadmap that outlines how, over time, the circular economy model can be achieved.