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What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?

Basics of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental and waste policy concept from the 1990s aimed at encouraging manufacturers, importers, and traders to sustainably design the entire lifecycle of their products, from production to disposal. EPR is deeply rooted in the European Union (EU) and is an essential component of the circular economy and environmental protection.
 

EPR is based on the principle that manufacturers and importers take responsibility for their products throughout their entire lifecycle, including the end-of-life phase. This means they are responsible not only for the environmentally friendly design and production of their products but also for the collection, recycling, and disposal of the products when they become waste. The main goal is to minimize the environmental impact throughout a product's lifecycle while simultaneously promoting the reuse, recycling, and recovery of products and materials.
 

EPR is anchored in various EU directives and regulations aimed at reducing the environmental impact of products and promoting the circular economy. Some of the key directives and regulations that define and regulate EPR in the EU are:

 

DIRECTIVE 2008/98/EC

Also known as the Waste Framework Directive, it establishes the general framework for waste management and recycling in the EU and introduces the concept of EPR in Article 8. It obligates member states to develop waste prevention programs and promote the recycling and recovery of waste, such as paper, metal, plastic, and glass. Each state can implement this individually in a directive.

DIRECTIVE 2012/19/EU

This directive, also known as the WEEE Directive, regulates the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment and obligates member states to establish collection systems for this waste. Manufacturers are required to participate in the costs of collecting, treating, and recycling waste electrical and electronic equipment.

REGULATION (EU) 2023/1542

This regulation pertains to batteries and waste batteries and stipulates that manufacturers must ensure batteries are disposed of or recycled in an environmentally friendly manner. As a regulation, every member state must convert the specifications into national law without individual leeway.

DIRECTIVE (EU) 2018/852

This directive amends the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC and strengthens the requirements for EPR systems. It stipulates that manufacturers must contribute to covering the costs of collecting, transporting, treating, and recovering packaging waste. Directives can be individually designed and implemented by individual states, which is why there are very different laws in the individual EU countries.

EPR is also a central element of the European Green Deal, an initiative of the European Commission aimed at making the EU climate-neutral by 2050. The Green Deal emphasizes the need to make production and consumption in the EU more sustainable and to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. EPR plays a crucial role in achieving these goals by encouraging manufacturers to develop more environmentally friendly products and promote the reuse and recycling of products and materials.
 

Overall, EPR is a policy instrument to advance the principles of the circular economy in the EU. It aims to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns and help minimize the environmental impact of products throughout their entire lifecycle. Manufacturers, importers, and traders must be aware of this responsibility and develop strategies to fulfill their obligations under the various EPR directives and regulations.

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