Extended producer responsibility

In the field of waste management, extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a strategy to add all of the environmental costs associated with a product throughout the product life cycle to the market price of that product.[1] Extended producer responsibility legislation is a driving force behind the adoption of remanufacturing initiatives because it "focuses on the end-of-use treatment of consumer products and has the primary aim to increase the amount and degree of product recovery and to minimize the environmental impact of waste materials".[2]

The concept was first formally introduced in Sweden by Thomas Lindhqvist in a 1990 report to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment.[3] In subsequent reports prepared for the Ministry, the following definition emerged: "[EPR] is an environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact of a product, by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal.[4]

Alte Fabrik Finkemeier 002
Tires are an example of products subject to extended producer responsibility in many industrialized countries.


EPR uses [financial incentive]]s to encourage manufacturers to design environmentally friendly products by holding producers responsible for the costs of managing their products at end of life. This policy approach differs from product stewardship, which shares responsibility across the chain of custody of a product,[5] in that it attempts to relieve local governments of the costs of managing certain priority products by requiring manufacturers to internalize the cost of recycling within the product price. EPR is based on the principle that manufacturers (usually brand owners) have the greatest control over product design and marketing and have the greatest ability and responsibility to reduce toxicity and waste.[6]

EPR may take the form of a reuse, buyback, or recycling program. The producer may also choose to delegate this responsibility to a third party, a so-called producer responsibility organization (PRO), which is paid by the producer for used-product management. In this way, EPR shifts the responsibility for waste management from government to private industry, obliging producers, importers and/or sellers to internalise waste management costs in their product prices and ensure the safe handling of their products.[7]

A good example of a producer responsibility organization is PRO Europe S.P.R.L. (Packaging Recovery Organisation Europe)[8], founded in 1995, the umbrella organization for European packaging and packaging waste recovery and recycling schemes. Product stewardship organizations like PRO Europe are intended to relieve industrial companies and commercial enterprises of their individual obligation to take back used products through the operation of an organization which fulfills these obligations on a nationwide basis on behalf of their member companies. The aim is to ensure the recovery and recycling of packaging waste in the most economically efficient and ecologically sound manner. In many countries, this is done through the Green Dot trademark of which PRO Europe is the general licensor. In twenty-five nations, companies are now using the Green Dot as the financing symbol for the organization of recovery, sorting and recycling of sales packaging.


In response to the growing problem of excessive waste, several countries adopted waste management policies in which manufacturers are responsible for taking back their products from end users at the end of the products' useful life, or partially financing a collection and recycling infrastructure. These policies were adopted due to the lack of collection infrastructure for certain products that contain hazardous materials, or due to the high costs to local governments of providing such collection services. The primary goals of these take-back laws therefore are to partner with the private sector to ensure that all waste is managed in a way that protects public health and the environment. The goals of take-back laws are to

  1. encourage companies to design products for reuse, recyclability, and materials reduction;
  2. correct market signals to the consumer by incorporating waste management costs into product price;
  3. promote innovation in recycling technology.[9]

Take-back programs help promote these goals by creating incentives for companies to design products that minimize waste management costs, to design products that contain safer materials (so they do not need to be managed separately), or to design products that are easier to recycle and reuse (so recycling becomes more profitable).[10] The earliest take-back activity began in Europe, where government-sponsored take-back initiatives arose from concerns about scarce landfill space and potentially hazardous substances in component parts. The European Union adopted a directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). The purpose of this directive is to prevent the production of waste electronics and also to encourage reuse and recycling of such waste. The directive requires the Member States to encourage design and production methods that take into account the future dismantling and recovery of their products.[11] These take-back programs have been adopted in nearly every OECD country. In the United States, most of these policies have been implemented at the state level.

Plastic bags

Recycling, banning, and taxation fails to adequately reduce the pollution caused by plastic bags. An alternative to these policies would be to increase extended producer responsibility.[12] In the US, under the Clinton presidency, the President's Council on Sustainable Development suggested EPR in order to target different participants in the cycle of a product's life.[13] This can, however, make the product more expensive since the cost must be taken into consideration before being put on the market, which is why it is not widely used in the United States currently.[14] Instead, there is banning or taxation of plastic bags, which puts the responsibility on the consumers. In the United States, EPR has not successfully been made mandatory, instead being voluntary. What has been recommended is a comprehensive program which combines taxation, producer responsibility, and recycling to combat pollution.[15]


Many governments and companies have adopted extended producer responsibility to help address the growing problem of e-waste — used electronics contain materials that cannot be safely thrown away with regular household trash. In 2007, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, people threw away 2.5 million tons of cell phones, TVs, computers, and printers.[16] Many governments have partnered with corporations in creating the necessary collection and recycling infrastructure.[17] Some argue that local and manufacturer-supported extended producer responsibility laws give manufacturers greater responsibility for the reuse, recycling, and disposal of their own products.[6]

The kinds of chemicals found in e-waste that are particularly dangerous to human health and the environment are lead, mercury, brominated flame-retardants, and cadmium. Lead is found in the screens of phones, TVs and computer monitors and can damage kidneys, nerves, blood, bones, reproductive organs, and muscles. Mercury is found in flat screen TVs, laptop screens, and fluorescent bulbs, and can cause damage to the kidneys and the nervous system. Brominated flame-retardants found in cables and plastic cases can cause cancer, disruption of liver function, and nerve damage. Cadmium is found in rechargeable batteries and can cause kidney damage and cancer. Poorer countries are dumping grounds for e-waste as many governments accept money for disposing this waste on their lands. This causes increased health risks for people in these countries, especially ones who work or live close to these dumps.[16]

In the United States, 25 states have implemented laws that require the recycling of electronic waste. Of those, 23 have incorporated some form of extended producer responsibility into their laws.[18] According to analysis done by the Product Stewardship Institute, some states have not enacted EPR laws because of a lack of recycling infrastructure and funds for proper e-waste disposal.[19] In contrast, according to a study of EPR legislation done by the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, states that have seen success in their e-waste recycling programs have done so because they have developed a convenient e-waste infrastructure or the state governments have instituted goals for manufacturers to meet.

Advocates for EPR also argue that including "high expectations for performance" into the laws, and ensuring that those are only minimum requirements, contribute to making the laws successful. The larger the scope of products that can be collected, the more e-waste will be disposed of properly.[18]

Similar laws have been passed in other parts of the world as well. The European Union has taken steps to address some electronic waste management issues. They have restricted the use of harmful substances in member countries and have made it illegal to export waste.[20]

The Chinese laws regarding e-waste are similar to the ones in the EU, but they focus on banning the import of e-waste. This has proven to be difficult, however, because illegal smuggling of waste still occurs in the country.[21] In order to dispose of e-waste in China today, a license is required and plants are held responsible for treating pollution.


When producers face either the financial or physical burden of recycling their electronics after use, they may be incentivized to design more sustainable, less toxic, and more easily recyclable electronics.[6][22][23] Using fewer materials and designing products to last longer can directly reduce producers' end-of-life costs.[22][24] Thus, extended producer responsibility is often cited[25][26] as one way to fight planned obsolescence, because it financially encourages manufacturers to design for recycling and make products last longer.


Some people have concerns about extended producer responsibility programs for complex electronics that can be difficult to safely recycle, such as lithium-ion polymer batteries.[23] Others worry that such laws could increase the cost of electronics because producers would add recycling costs into the initial price tag.[23] When companies are required to transport their products to a recycling facility, it can be expensive if the product contains hazardous materials and does not have a scrap value, such as with CRT televisions, which can contain up to five pounds of lead.[27] Organizations and researchers against EPR claim that the mandate would slow innovation and impede technological progress.[23]

Other critics[28] are concerned that manufacturers may use takeback programs to take secondhand electronics off the reuse market, by shredding rather than reusing or repairing goods that come in for recycling. Another argument against EPR is that EPR policies are not accelerating environmentally-friendly designs because "manufacturers are already starting to moving toward reduced material-use per unit of output, reduced energy use in making and delivering each product, and improved environmental performance."[29]

The Reason Foundation argues that EPR is not clear in the way fees are established for the particular recycling processes. Fees are set in place to help incentivize recycling, but this may deter the use of manufacturing with better materials for the different electronic products. There are not set fees for certain materials, so confusion occurs when companies do not know what design features to include in their devices.[30]


EPR has been implemented in many forms, which may be classified into three major approaches:

  • Mandatory
  • Negotiated
  • Voluntary

It is perhaps because of the tendency of economic policy in market-driven economies not to interfere with consumers' preferences that the producer-centric representation is the dominant form of viewing the environmental impacts of industrial production: in statistics on energy, emissions, water, etc., impacts are almost always presented as attributes of industries ("on-site" or "direct" allocation) rather than as attributes of the supply chains of products for consumers. On a smaller scale, most existing schemes for corporate sustainability reporting include only impacts that arise out of operations controlled by the reporting company, and not supply-chain impacts[31] According to this world view, "upstream and downstream [environmental] impacts are ... allocated to their immediate producers. The institutional setting and the different actors' spheres of influence are not reflected".[32]

On the other hand, a number of studies have highlighted that final consumption and affluence, especially in the industrialised world, are the main drivers for the level and growth of environmental pressure. Even though these studies provide a clear incentive for complementing producer-focused environmental policy with some consideration for consumption-related aspects, demand-side measures to environmental problems are rarely exploited.[33]

The nexus created by the different views on impacts caused by industrial production is exemplified by several contributions to the discussion about producer or consumer responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions data are reported to the IPCC as contributions of producing industries located in a particular country rather than as embodiments in products consumed by a particular population, irrespective of productive origin. However, especially for open economies, taking into account the greenhouse gases embodied in internationally traded commodities can have a considerable influence on national greenhouse gas balance sheets. Assuming consumer responsibility, exports have to be subtracted from, and imports added to national greenhouse gas inventories. In Denmark, for example, Munksgaard and Pedersen (2001) report that a significant amount of power and other energy-intensive commodities are traded across Danish borders, and that between 1966 and 1994 the Danish foreign trade balance in terms of CO2 developed from a 7 Mt deficit to a 7 Mt surplus, compared to total emissions of approximately 60 Mt.[34] In particular, electricity traded between Norway, Sweden and Denmark is subject to large annual fluctuations due to varying rainfall in Norway and Sweden. In wet years Denmark imports hydro-electricity whereas electricity from coal-fired power plants is exported in dry years. The official Danish emissions inventory includes a correction for electricity trade and thus applies the consumer responsibility principle.[35]

Similarly, at the company level, "when adopting the concept of eco-efficiency and the scope of an environmental management system stated in for example ISO 14001, it is insufficient to merely report on the carbon dioxide emissions limited to the judicial borders of the company".[36] 7 "Companies must recognise their wider responsibility and manage the entire life-cycle of their products ... Insisting on high environmental standards from suppliers and ensuring that raw materials are extracted or produced in an environmentally conscious way provides a start."[37] A life-cycle perspective is also taken in EPR frameworks: "Producers of products should bear a significant degree of responsibility (physical and/or financial) not only for the environmental impacts of their products downstream from the treatment and disposal of their product, but also for their upstream activities inherent in the selection of materials and in the design of products."[38] "The major impetus for EPR came from northern European countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as they were facing severe landfill shortages. [... As a result,] EPR is generally applied to post-consumer wastes which place increasing physical and financial demands on municipal waste management."[39]

EPR has rarely been consistently quantified. Moreover, applying conventional life cycle assessment, and assigning environmental impacts to producers and consumers can lead to double-counting. Using input-output analysis, researchers have attempted for decades to account for both producers and consumers in an economy in a consistent way. Gallego and Lenzen demonstrate and discuss a method of consistently delineating producers' supply chains, into mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive responsibilities to be shared by all agents in an economy.[40] Their method is an approach to allocating responsibility across agents in a fully inter-connected circular system. Upstream and downstream environmental impacts are shared between all agents of a supply chain – producers and consumers.


Auto Recycling Nederland (ARN) is a producer responsibility organisation (PRO) that organises vehicle recycling in the Netherlands. An advanced recycling fee is charged to those who purchase a new vehicle and is used to fund the recycling of it at the end of its useful life. The PRO was set up to satisfy the European Union's End of Life Vehicles Directive.

The Swiss Association for Information, Communication and Organisational Technology (SWICO), an ICT industry organisation, became a PRO to address the problem of electronic waste.

The Canada-Wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility (CAP-EPR) was adopted in Canada in 2009 under the guidance of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. The CAP-EPR followed years of waste and recycling efforts in Canada that remained largely ineffective as the diversion rates from landfills and incineration persisted. Despite three decades worth of recycling efforts, Canada fell short of many other G8 and OECD countries.[41] Since the CAP-EPR’s 2009 inception, most provinces have enforced legislation or restrictions on a wider range of products and materials under EPR programs. “Nine out of ten provinces have [since implemented] EPR programs or [put] requirements in place… As a result of these new programs or requirements and expansion of existing ones, almost half of the product categories for Phase 1 are now covered by legislated EPR programs or requirements across Canada.”[42]


In Germany, since the adoption of EPR, "between 1991 and 1998, the per capita consumption of packaging was reduced from 94.7 kg to 82 kg, resulting in a reduction of 13.4%".[43] Furthermore, due to Germany's influence in EPR, the "European Commission developed one waste directive" for all of member states (Hanisch 2000). One major goal was to have all member states recycle "25% of all packaging material"[43] and have accomplished the goal.

In the United States, EPR is gaining popularity "with 40 such laws enacted since 2008. In 2010 alone, 38 such EPR bills were introduced in state legislatures across the United States, and 12 were signed into law."[44] However, these laws are only at the state level as there are no federal laws for EPR. So far, "only a handful of states have imposed five to six EPR laws as well as 32 states having at least one EPR law".[44]

See also


  1. ^ {OECD (2001). Extended Producer Responsibility: A Guidance Manual for Governments. Paris, France.
  2. ^ Johnson, Michael R.; McCarthy, Ian P. (2014-10-01). "Product recovery decisions within the context of Extended Producer Responsibility". Journal of Engineering and Technology Management. Engineering and Technology Management for Sustainable Business Development. 34: 9–28. doi:10.1016/j.jengtecman.2013.11.002.
  3. ^ Thomas Lindhqvist & Karl Lidgren, "Models for Extended Producer Responsibility," in Sweden, October 1990.
  4. ^ Thomas Lindhqvist, "Towards an [EPR]- analysis of experiences and proposals," April 1992.
  5. ^ "Extended Producer Responsibility". Waste to Wealth. Archived from the original on 2012-03-10.
  6. ^ a b c "Producer Responsibility Recycling". Sierra Club. Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  7. ^ Hanisch, C. (2000). Is Extended Producer Responsibility Effective?. Environ Sci Technol, 34 (7), pp.170 A-175 A.
  8. ^ https://www.pro-e.org/
  9. ^ James Sallzman, Sustainable Consumption and the Law, 27ENVTL. L. 1274 (1997)
  10. ^ Linda Roeder, Hazardous Waste: Advocacy Group Recommendations Promote Manufacturer Responsibility, DAILY ENV”T REP., March 16, 2004
  11. ^ Directive 2002/96/EC of 27 January 2003 on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), 203 O.J. (l 37) 46
  12. ^ "Extended Producer Responsibility An examination of its impact on innovation and greening products" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Proceedings - Extended Product Responsibility". clinton2.nara.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  14. ^ Toffel, Michael W.; Stein, Antoinette; Lee, Katharine L. (2008-01-01). "Extending Producer Responsibility: An Evaluation Framework for Product Take-Back Policies". Harvard Business School.
  15. ^ "Public Policy Approaches for the Reduction of Plastic Bag Marine Debris" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  16. ^ a b Reagan, Robert (March 15, 2015). "A COMPARISON OF E-WASTE EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY LAWS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND CHINA". Vermont Journal of Environmental Law.
  17. ^ "Manufacturer Takeback Programs". Electronics Takeback Coalition. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  18. ^ a b "Ten Lessons Learned from State E-Waste Laws" (PDF). Electronics TakeBack Coalition.
  19. ^ "Map of State EPR Laws". Product Stewardship Institute. May 2016.
  20. ^ Toothman, Jessika. "How E-waste Works". How Stuff Works.
  21. ^ Nuwer, Rachel (February 28, 2014). "Eight Million Tons of Illegal E-Waste is Smuggled into China Each Year". Smithsonian.
  22. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-06. Retrieved 2010-05-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2010-05-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ http://www.eprworkinggroup.org/
  25. ^ Prakash, Bhavani. "The Light Bulb Conspiracy: The Story of Planned Obsolescence". Eco Walk the Talk. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  26. ^ "Annie Leonard interview & "Story of Electronics" release". Nourish the Spirit. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Why do CRT monitors contain lead?". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  28. ^ Rivera, Ray. "Mayor Calls Electronics Recycling Bill 'Illegal'". City Room. The New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  29. ^ Gattuso, Dana, and Joel Schwartz. "Extended Producer Responsibility." Reason Foundation. Reason Foundation, 1 June 2002. Web. 5 May 2015.
  30. ^ Schwartz, Joel (June 1, 2002). "Extended Producer Responsibility". Reason Foundation. The Reason Foundation.
  31. ^ World Business Council on Sustainable Development an World Resources Institute (2001). The Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Conches-Geneva, Switzerland.
  32. ^ Spangenberg, J. H. and S. Lorek (2002). Environmentally sustainable household consumption: from aggregate environmental pressures to priority fields of action. Ecological Economics, 43, pp. 127-140.
  33. ^ Princen, T. (1999). Consumption and environment: some conceptual issues. Ecological Economics, 31, pp. 347-363.
  34. ^ Munksgaard, J. and K. A. Pedersen (2001). CO2 accounts for open economies: producer or consumer responsibility. Energy Policy, 29, pp. 327-334.
  35. ^ Danish Environmental Protection Agency (1998). Denmark's Second National Communication on Climate Change submitted under the UN FCCC. Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy
  36. ^ Cerin, P. and L. Karlson (2002). Business incentives for sustainability: a property rights approach. Ecological Economics, 40, pp. 13-22.
  37. ^ Cerin, P. (2005) Environmental Strategies in Industry: Turning Business Incentives into Sustainability. Report 5455. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
  38. ^ Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 2001, p. 21-22
  39. ^ Environment Protection Authority New South Wales 2003, p. 2-4
  40. ^ Gallego, B. and M. Lenzen (2005). A consistent input-output formulation of shared producer and consumer responsibility. Economic Systems Research, 17(4), pp. 365-391.
  41. ^ "Canada-Wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility" (PDF). Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. October 2009. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  42. ^ "Progress Report on the Canada-Wide Action Plan for Extender Producer Responsibility" (PDF). Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  43. ^ a b Hanisch, Carola. "Is Extended Producer Responsibility Effective?" Environmental Science & Technology 34.7 (2000): 170A-75A. Web.
  44. ^ a b Nash, Jennifer, and Christopher Bosso. "Extended Producer Responsibility in the United States." Journal of Industrial Ecology 17.2 (2013): 175-85. Web.

Further reading

External links


After-sales is the provision of services, support and spare parts after making an initial sale. This often occurs in the provision of complex machinery which requires regular maintenance such as motor vehicles.

Appliance recycling

Appliance recycling is the process of dismantling waste home appliances and scrapping their parts for reuse. Recycling appliances for their original or other purposes, involves disassembly, removal of hazardous components and destruction of the end-of-life equipment to recover materials, generally by shredding, sorting and grading. The rate at which appliances are discarded has increased with technological advancement. This correlation directly leads to the question of appropriate disposal. The main types of appliances that are recycled are televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and computers. When appliances are recycled, they can be looked upon as valuable resources. If disposed of improperly, appliances can become environmentally harmful and poison ecosystems.

The strength of appliance recycling legislation and the percentage of appliances recycled varies around the world.

Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan (born August 6, 1947) is a biologist and environmental advocate. He is best known for his work on zero waste and extended producer responsibility through two American nonprofit organizations. He co-founded Product Policy Institute (now Upstream Policy Institute) in 2003 and was Executive Director until 2015. He co-founded GrassRoots Recycling Network in 1995 and was Executive Director until 2003.

Sheehan received a doctorate in insect ecology from Cornell University in 1987 and researched ecology of parasitoid wasps . Since 2016 he has been leading a citizen science initiative to engage mushroom enthusiasts in documenting fungal diversity through the nonprofit North American Mycoflora Project, of which Sheehan is board President.

Corporate behaviour

Corporate behaviour is the actions of a company or group who are acting as a single body. It defines the company's ethical strategies and describes the image of the company.

Dematerialization (products)

The dematerialization of a product literally means less, or better yet, no material is used to deliver the same level of functionality to the user. Sharing, borrowing and the organization of group services that facilitate and cater for communities needs could alleviate the requirement of ownership of many products.

In his book ‘'In the Bubble: designing in a complex world'’, John Thakara states that "the average consumer power tool is used for ten minutes in its entire life - but it takes hundreds of times its own weight to manufacture such an object”. A product service system with shared tools could simply offer access to them when needed. This shift from a reliance on products to services is the process of dematerialization. Digital music distribution systems, car clubs, bike hire schemes and laundry services are all examples of dematerialization.

Electronic waste by country

Electronic waste is a significant part of today's global, post-consumer waste stream. Efforts are being made to recycle and reduce this waste.

Healdsburg Transfer Station

The Healdsburg Transfer Station is a solid waste recycling and reuse facility in Sonoma County, California, located at 166 Alexander Valley Road, north of the City of Healdsburg. It is privately owned by Republic Services along with all other former Sonoma County transfer stations as of April 1, 2015. Its coordinates are 38.6515°N 122.8686°W / 38.6515; -122.8686.

Sonoma County along with some European nations and certain other non-federal U.S. public agencies has been a leader in recycling and adopting an extended producer responsibility plan to promote waste stream recycling and reuse. The Healdsburg Transfer Facility receives and processes a wide array of residential and commercial wastes in order to reduce the waste stream volume destined for landfills.

ISO 19011

ISO 19011 is an international standard that sets forth guidelines for management systems auditing. The current version is ISO 19011:2018.

It is developed by the International Organization for Standardization.

The standard offers four resources to organizations to "save time, effort and money":

A clear explanation of the principles of management systems auditing.

Guidance on the management of audit programs.

Guidance on the conduct of internal or external audits.

Advice on the competence and evaluation of auditors.

Index of recycling articles

This is an index of recycling topics.

Industrial ecology

Industrial ecology (IE) is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems. The global industrial economy can be modelled as a network of industrial processes that extract resources from the Earth and transform those resources into commodities which can be bought and sold to meet the needs of humanity. Industrial ecology seeks to quantify the material flows and document the industrial processes that make modern society function. Industrial ecologists are often concerned with the impacts that industrial activities have on the environment, with use of the planet's supply of natural resources, and with problems of waste disposal. Industrial ecology is a young but growing multidisciplinary field of research which combines aspects of engineering, economics, sociology, toxicology and the natural sciences.

Industrial ecology has been defined as a "systems-based, multidisciplinary discourse that seeks to understand emergent behaviour of complex integrated human/natural systems". The field approaches issues of sustainability by examining problems from multiple perspectives, usually involving aspects of sociology, the environment, economy and technology. The name comes from the idea that the analogy of natural systems should be used as an aid in understanding how to design sustainable industrial systems.

Inform, Inc.

Inform, Inc. is a non-profit environmental organization based in New York City. Founded in 1973, Inform has published more than 100 reports covering chemical hazard prevention, solid waste prevention, extended producer responsibility, and sustainable transportation. Inform uses media, such as video, to educate the public about the environmental effects of various consumer products.

List of waste management concepts

This is a list of waste management concepts.

Best practicable environmental option

Extended producer responsibility

Muda (Japanese term)

Pay as you throw

Polluter pays principle

Precautionary principle

Product stewardship

Proximity principle

Resource recovery

Waste hierarchy





Zero waste

Plastic Pollution Coalition

The Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) headquartered in Berkeley, CA is an organization working against the growing plastic pollution that is mostly caused by single-use plastic products and ingredients (plastic bottles, plastic bags, polystyrene, microplastics, microbeads). Founded in 2009, it has over 500 member organizations and businesses plus individuals who work for the common cause. PPC was co-founded by Lisa Kaas Boyle, Manuel Maqueda, Daniella Russo and artist Dianna Cohen, who currently serves as CEO.

Motto: Plastic is a substance the earth cannot digest. REFUSE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

PPC advocates

the reduction of plastic consumption (plastic-free schools/events/eateries)

the responsibility of policy and regulation (plastic-free towns, zero waste strategies)

a change in production (extended producer responsibility, product redesign)

environmental justice

global coalition buildingIn 2010, PPC was the host of TEDx event "Great Pacific Garbage Patch: The Global Plastic Pollution Crisis".PPC's "Think beyond Plastic" competition encourages businesses which help reduce plastic pollution with a total $60,000 of prize money. The competition drew 145 applications from 35 countries worldwide in 2016.

Polluter pays principle

In environmental law, the polluter pays principle is enacted to make the party responsible for producing pollution responsible for paying for the damage done to the natural environment. It is regarded as a regional custom because of the strong support it has received in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union countries. It is a fundamental principle in US environmental law.

Priority product

In waste management and extended producer responsibility, a priority product is a product that can create a high level of environmental harm.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines items such as electronics, products containing mercury, batteries, medical products, carpet and packaging as priority products.A priority product is a specific term defined in the New Zealand Waste Minimisation Act 2008 as one which could cause significant environmental harm, will benefit from reuse or recycling and is able to be managed under a product stewardship scheme.

Product stewardship

Product stewardship is where environmental, health, and safety protection centers on the product itself, and everyone involved in the lifespan of the product is called upon to take up responsibility to reduce its environmental, health, and safety impacts. For manufacturers, this includes planning for, and if necessary, paying for the recycling or disposal of the product at the end of its useful life. This may be achieved, in part, by redesigning products to use fewer harmful substances, to be more durable, reusable and recyclable, and to make products from recycled materials. For retailers and consumers, this means taking an active role in ensuring the proper disposal or recycling of an end-of-life product.

Those who advocate it are concerned with the later phases of product lifecycle and the comprehensive outcome of the whole production process. It is considered a pre-requisite to a strict service economy interpretation of (fictional, national, legal) "commodity" and "product" relationships.

The most familiar example is the container-deposit legislation. A fee is paid to buy the bottle, separately from the fee to buy what it contains. If the bottle is returned, the fee is returned, and the supplier must return the bottle for re-use or recycling. If not, the collected fee can be used to pay for landfill or litter control measures. Also, since the same fee can be collected by anyone finding and returning the bottle, it is common for people to collect these and return them as a means of surviving. This is quite common for instance among homeless people in U.S. cities.

However, the principle is applied very broadly beyond bottles to paint and automobile parts such as tires. When purchasing paint or tires in many places, one simultaneously pays for the disposal of the toxic waste they become. In some countries, such as Germany, law requires attention to the comprehensive outcome of the whole extraction, production, distribution, use and waste of a product, and holds those profiting from these legally responsible for any outcome along the way. This is also the trend in the UK and EU generally. In the United States, the issue has been confronted via class action lawsuits that attempt to hold companies liable for the environmental impact of their products. Thus far, such as litigation or proposed accounting reforms such as full cost accounting have not gained much traction for the product stewardship concept in the United States beyond the realm of academe and corporate public relations (derisively referred to as greenwashing).

The demand-side approach ethical consumerism, supported by consumer education and information about environmental impacts, may approach some of the same outcomes as product stewardship.

Resource recovery

Resource recovery is using wastes as an input material to create valuable products as new outputs. The aim is to reduce the amount of waste generated, therefore reducing the need for landfill space and also extracting maximum value from waste. Resource recovery delays the need to use raw materials in the manufacturing process. Materials found in municipal solid waste can be used to make new products. Plastic, paper, aluminium, glass and metal are examples of where value can be found in waste.

Resource recovery goes further than just the management of waste. Life-cycle analysis (LCA) can be used to compare the resource recovery potential of different treatment technologies. Improvements to administration, source separation and collection, reuse and recycling are important. For example, organic materials can be treated with anaerobic digestion and turned into energy, compost or fertilizer.

Resource recovery can also be an aim in the context of sanitation. Here, the term refers to approaches to recover the resources that are contained in wastewater and human excreta (urine and feces). The term "toilet resources" has come into use recently. Those resources include: nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), organic matter, energy and water. This concept is also referred to as ecological sanitation. Separation of waste flows can help make resource recovery simpler. Examples include keeping urine separate from feces (as in urine diversion toilets) and keeping greywater and blackwater separate in municipal wastewater systems.

Source reduction

Source reduction is activities designed to reduce the volume, mass, or toxicity of products throughout the life cycle. It includes the design and manufacture, use, and disposal of products with minimum toxic content, minimum volume of material, and/or a longer useful life.

An example of source reduction is use of a Reusable shopping bag at the grocery store; although it uses more material than a single-use disposable bag, the material per use is less.

Thomas Lindhqvist

Thomas Lindhqvist (born 4 February 1954) is a Swedish academic. He is credited for introducing the concept of extended producer responsibility. He is currently Associate Professor and Director of Research Programs at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University in Sweden Thomas teaches and researches mainly in the area of environmental product policy, with special emphasis on extended producer responsibility and informative instruments (environmental product declarations and eco-labelling), as well as preventive environmental strategies, the use of economic instruments and waste management. Thomas has been a co-leader of the Working Group on Policies, Strategies and Instruments to Promote Cleaner Production, part of the UNEP Network on Cleaner Production. He has also worked on research projects with several national and international authorities and organizations, including the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Ministry of Environment, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the OECD, WWF and Greenpeace, among many others.

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