Environmental policy tools and evaluation

Extended producer responsibility


Faced with increasing amounts of waste, many governments have reviewed available policy options and concluded that placing the responsibility for the post-consumer phase of certain goods on producers could be an option. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. Assigning such responsibility could in principle provide incentives to prevent wastes at the source, promote product design for the environment and support the achievement of public recycling and materials management goals. Within the OECD the trend is towards the extension of EPR to new products, product groups and waste streams such as electrical appliances and electronics.


OECD has been doing much work on EPR, previously under the auspices of the Working Party on National Environmental Policies, currently under the auspices of the Working Party on Resource Productivity and Waste.


For example, the book Extended Producer Responsibility: A Guidance Manual for Governments was issued in 2001. It discusses the potential benefits and costs associated with EPR.


Like for other policy approaches, a careful assessment of the related costs and benefits of EPRs is important. The document  Analytical Framework for Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Extended Producer Responsibility Programmes provides detailed information on how to carry-out such assessments.


One of the aims when introducing EPR schemes has often been to give producers an incentive to change product design in environmentally benign ways, for example by making it easier to reuse or recycle the products. The report EPR Policies and Product Design: Economic Theory and Selected Case Studies discusses the theory behind this argument and analyses some selected cases. The report Instrument Mixes Addressing Household Waste also provides some discussion of the use of EPR schemes.


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