An increase in global demand for natural resources put additional environmental pressures that arise from the extraction, consumption and end-of-life management of such resources. This calls for the sustainable use of natural resources and the transition towards a circular and more resource efficient economy. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies have emerged in this context and are expected to further expand and evolve to respond to these global challenges.
In 2016, the OECD updated the 2001 Guidance Manual for Governments on EPR. Across these 15 years, many OECD countries introduced EPR policies and a considerable amount of knowledge and experience is emerging from its application. The introduction of EPR policies is now being considered by many emerging economies and developing countries. As EPR is introduced and implemented, new findings and issues are also being identified.
This paper provides an overview of international trends for EPR policies, offers the context and outline of the updated OECD guidance manual, and gives a brief discussion on the new and emerging issue of EPR and internet sales. It mainly focuses on international trends and issues related to EPR that are typically beyond those relevant in Japan.
This paper describes the characteristics of and future tasks for Japanese EPR systems with reference to OECD′s EPR Updated Guidance.
Japanese EPR systems have two unique characteristics. Firstly, for mandatory EPR systems, material EPR is usually adopted rather than financial, except in the case of the packaging 3R system. Secondly, some voluntary EPR systems are used in addition to three mandatory ones.
Japanese EPR systems have several future tasks. Firstly, to realize the “Design for Environment (DfE)”, the most important purpose of EPR, Japan should manage to link the environmental design extent of individual kinds of products made by individual producers and the rate of recycling fee (Modulated recycling fee). Secondly, when financial EPR is imposed on producers, a plan needs to be put in place to facilitate a system that does not tax producers for the recycling fee revenue. Thirdly, Japanese 3R systems must now take into consideration methods for full integration of the competition policy and EPR systems.
In addition, to maintain consciousness about DfE among producers and suppliers, with regard to new situations such as increased net shopping and a decreasing Japanese producer market share in Japan, the country is in a position to examine the introduction of advanced recycling fee systems for several products.
EPR is rational and fair as an idea, but Japan must now closely examine and improve its EPR systems to realize their actual purpose, which is “DfE”.
Research on EPR and its practical application have been promoted since Lindhqvist published his seminal work on this topic in 2000. In connection to this, OECD published the first Guidance Manual on EPR in 2001, accelerating the implementation of EPR in quite a few countries. A revised version of the Guidance Manual on EPR published by OECD in 2016, based upon Lindhqvist′s ideas and the first guidance manual, has shown a new horizon for EPR as well as to acknowledge problems to be overcome. The present paper examines and evaluates the new Guidance Manual from an economist viewpoint, revealing possibilities for newly developing the 3R concept that grew out of EPR. It also refers to some of the difficulties that are intrinsic to EPR.
In this paper, Chapter 5 of “Extended Producer Responsibility : Updated Guidance for Efficient Waste Management”, published by OECD in 2016, was outlined. The Updated Guidance pointed out that most existing EPR systems have not provided enough incentives for DfE and examined possible improvements. The paper also discussed the impact of EPR on DfE proposed by the Updated Guidance, features of household PC and home appliance recycling systems in Japan from the perspective of individual producer responsibility (IPR) and their incentives for DfE. It also showed examples of French EPR schemes with eco-modulation and briefly discussed the possible development of eco-modulation as EPR policies with various pro-environmental incentives in Japan.
Since the launch of OECD′s Guidance Manual for Governments on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in 2011, policies for taking back and recycling of end-of-life products based on the principle of extended producer responsibility have been expanded in terms of both number of countries introduced and items/products targeted by the policies. Facing environmental and social challenges associated with environmentally unsound waste treatment activities as well as informal recycling, developing countries have aspirations for introducing EPR policies to solve such challenges. This paper firstly overviews development of EPR-based policies in emerging and developing economies in Asia and the Pacific region. Secondly, it summarizes a number of challenges associated with introducing EPR policies in the context of developing countries. It then discusses how OECD′s updated guidance in 2016 is trying to respond to such challenges faced by developing economies. Finally, it concludes with lessons learned from applying EPR into recycling policies in developing countries.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) has been an important concept in recycling/waste management policy throughout the world. The diverse perceptions of EPR have, however, caused intense friction within policy dialogue. The author explained the confusion that has arisen in policy dialogue as a result of these diverse perceptions of EPR, and outlined different perception of aims, rationales, application of EPR, and ambitions and policy approaches for introducing EPR programs. Moving forward with policy dialogue in the future will require cautious consideration of 1) use of the term “EPR”; 2) creation of a positive policy arena toward EPR-relevant actions along with monitoring of EPR programs; 3) clarification of discussion points; and 4) allocation of stakeholders′ roles based on the aims and effectiveness of the EPR program to be introduced. Finally, the author argued several points of concern regarding the expansion of the scope of EPR policy in Japan, as recommended by OECD, raising five specific products as examples, which were solar panels, batteries, ships, difficult-to-treat waste, and diapers.