In short, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) refers to a mandatory type of product stewardship. Instead of local government carrying the sole burden for disposal costs, EPR places the primary responsibility on the producer or the brand owner of a product. Most producer responsibility laws target products that contain hazardous materials or products that are difficult and costly to deal with when they are discarded, such as mattresses, mercury thermostats, pesticide containers, paint, and carpet.
EPR laws put the disposal responsibility back on the producer. The maker of a product has the greatest ability to implement changes in product and package design to minimize the negative impacts that their products have on human health and the environment. EPR laws encourage companies to do just that. Other products that can be subject to EPR laws include electronics, motor oil, pharmaceuticals, medical sharps, and tires.
For more on EPR and its role in the future of waste management practices, check out our July 2015 post on Resource Recycling executive editor Jerry Powell’s comments, “We are getting the easy tons…”
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