Faced with rising waste levels, several policymakers have examined policy options and concluded that putting responsibility for the post-consumer process of such products on manufacturers could be a viable choice. Producers are granted substantial financial and/or physical responsibility for the management or disposal of post-consumer goods under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy approach. Assigning such responsibility may, in theory, provide opportunities to prevent waste at the source, encourage environmentally friendly product design, and support public recycling and waste management objectives.
WHY IS EPR BENEFICIAL TO BUSINESS?
Businesses are becoming more aware of the need to improve how they handle customer waste. This may be attributed in part to the rising cost of raw materials, as well as the growing demand for environmental protection from environmental activists, conscientious consumers, and lawmakers. Natural resources are often extracted from the Earth, processed into goods, sold to customers, and used until they are recycled as waste to make entirely new products.
EPR is still seen as a mechanism to assist businesses in advancing this agenda. In reality, many businesses are voluntarily adopting elements of EPR to improve their bottom line.
However, the shift in corporate attitudes toward developing more sustainable goods has an impact on consumers, especially those in the millennial generation.
Another driving factor for EPR right now is the ability for marketers to improve their relationships with their customers—a vital priority as consumers’ brand loyalties are suddenly changing in the wake of the global pandemic. Companies have had a unique opportunity in recent years to encourage customers to make more sustainable purchases by providing discounts or rewards to those who participate in sustainable programs.
SO, WHAT DOES YOUR Business HAVE TO OFFER?
Now is an excellent time to begin investigating the concept of extended producer responsibility, as customers seek to buy more sustainably and businesses seek to reduce their environmental effects, exploring ideas of EPR. To minimize manufacturing waste, increase sustainable material use, and prepare for the reuse of a product’s components, businesses should begin developing products with the entire lifecycle in mind.
On the other hand, consumers must take part in the EPR process by returning old purchases to the business so that the materials can be recycled or reformatted by the original supplier. Consumers will be inspired to take action by businesses being open in their operations, emphasizing the long-term effects that consumers have, and, of course, providing ongoing benefits or advantages for their support of EPR initiatives.
Extended Producer Responsibility Has Its Advantages
In extended producer responsibility, Producers of goods are responsible for product disposal at end-of-life, or when products are found no longer usable by customers. Economic, environmental, and social benefits can all be contributed to expanded producer responsibility policies. Increasing product recyclability, reducing the usage of harmful components in goods, and reducing the amount of material sent to a landfill or incinerator rather than reused or recycled are all environmental motivations for extended producer responsibility.
In most cases, the government—specifically, local municipalities—is financially and physically responsible for waste disposal.
While there is an emphasis on reducing toxics in the manufacturing process, extended producer responsibility is generally focused on product disposal. It is not a strategy for reducing a product’s environmental impact. Extended producer responsibility has been criticized as a principle that works well in theory but has yet to demonstrate a major awareness of green product design in practice.