Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), also known as Product Stewardship, is a government strategy to place responsibility for end of life management of products and associated packaging on producers and consumers rather than on taxpayers, ratepayers or local governments.
There is a proven policy being applied in a growing number of jurisdictions to deliver impressive results in recycling and waste reduction. That policy is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), also known as Product Stewardship. EPR shifts responsibility for recycling or other safe disposal of products and packaging to those who design, market and profit from them: the producers.
It began with the “bottle bills” of the 1970s and 1980s. These were modeled after a practice used by soft drink and beer companies before they switched from refillable bottles to throw-away bottles and cans. Bottle bills require beverage companies to take back their empty containers and recycle them. In US states and Canadian provinces with beverage container deposit return programs, recycling rates are higher than where there is no such system and the programs offer social and economic benefits such as litter reduction and recycling with no public cost.
During the 1990s, there was renewed interest in this policy approach. Laws were passed in Canada and European countries requiring producers to take back hazardous leftovers such as paint, pesticides, motor oil, and medications. Since 2000 new laws in North America require producers to set up programs to recycle computers, televisions and other electronic equipment.
EPR is based on a commonsense principle: that producers will design with recycling in mind when they are required to take back their products and recycle them. The new laws have rolled out so successfully that Extended Producer Responsibility is attracting attention across North America.
PPI is working with local governments and community organizations to educate them about EPR and build support for effective, well-thought-out legislation that will make producers responsible and accountable for producing better products, green jobs and less waste.
Watch videos on producer responsibility and product stewardship from a local government perspective.
EPR Fact Sheet California Integrated Waste Management Board (2009)
Product Stewardship – Whose Responsibility is It? By Kim Mote, Assistant Director of Environmental Management, City of Fort Worth. NTCOG (Dec 2008)
Extended producer responsibility policies in the United States and Canada: History and Status. By Bill Sheehan and Helen Spiegelman, Product Policy Institute. (2005). Chapter in Governance of Integrated Product Policy: In Search of Sustainable Production and Consumption, edited by Dirk Scheer and Frieder Rubik, Greenleaf Publishing
EPR as Explicit Property Rights By Usman Valiante (March 2006)