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Why is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) important for my sustainable business?

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) makes the producer of the product responsible for the financial and/or physical responsibility for product recycling. In its true form, EPR also extends the responsibility of the producer to the entire life cycle of the product chain —from production through to end of life waste management. Half of the United States have passed requirements for electronic waste EPR and many other countries have far more extensive EPR legislation, but we have a long way to go before producers are truly held accountable.

Ultimately, the EPR cost will need to be/is factored into the price of the item because it has to be, but in order to remain competitive in an international market with products being produced under different country’s restrictions, producers are looking for ways to reduce their overall costs. The more harmful the materials in the product are/more difficult to break down in the waste management process, the higher the cost on the producer. This in turn incentivizes the producers to seek out alternative materials that won’t cost as much from a waste management standpoint, which ultimately helps the planet!

Have you ever heard of IPR?? I sure hadn’t until I started doing some research recently. Individual producer responsibility (IPR) is a policy tool that makes producers financially and/or physically responsible for the end of life management of their own products. This is different from collective responsibility where the industry sector as a whole is responsible for the financial cost of collecting and recycling all products, regardless of brand name differentiation. A producer could set up their own brand specific take back system or they can join a collective system in which their brands can be identified. The most common form of brand specific take-back is the business to business (b2b) models where take-back is often bundled with other value added services such as data removal and installation services of new equipment- think cable! Other companies like Rainbow sandals let you send your old sandals back for them to repurpose and recycle the materials.

Sometimes its overwhelming to do the research and find out what companies are truly worthy of supporting. We will continue to do our best to do research for you but we ALWAYS welcome folks to comment or write to us directly with information and suggestions!


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