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[GreenYes] extended producer responsibility
To all---

I have just come across part of the discussion on extended producer
responsibility (EPR) and would like to add some comments.

A primary goal of EPR is to prevent waste and to increase reuse and
recycling. An important factor in accomplishing this is product design. EPR
policies shift responsibility for managing products at end-of-life from
government to the producers of the products. The assumption is that if
producers must pay to collect and reuse/recycle they will have an incentive
to design products that are less wasteful and more reusable/recyclable.

The producers may pass on the costs to the consumers in higher prices.
Companies compete on price so they have an incentive to keep these costs
down by redesigning their products. When the costs are passed on in the
price of products, incentives are provided for consumers to buy products
that are easier and cheaper to reuse/recycle. The issue is not whether the
same people are taxpayers and consumers. They are. But, how we pay (when we
buy a product? Use a waste service? Pay our taxes?) is very important
because of the incentives that each system produces. When waste management
is paid for by general taxpayer revenues, neither producers nor consumers
have any incentive to design or select less wasteful and more
reuseable/recyclable products.

EPR incentives for redesign of products is not just theoretical---such
design changes have been documented. Companies like Xerox and Kodak have
redesigned their products which has substantially increased the
profitability of their take-back/recycling programs. The German Green Dot
system has resulted in reductions in the amount of packaging used in Germany
and a shift from materials that are expensive to recycle to those that are
cheaper to recycle.

EPR does not internalize environmental externalities. It internalizes actual
waste management costs.

EPR programs, in addition to shifting responsibility for end-of-life
management of products to producers, usually include targets for collection,
reuse/recycling as well as reporting requirements. All EPR programs do not
include the design incentives I have described above. If producers pay a
universal fee (i.e. an ADF of $10 for every TV) they do not have an
incentive to redesign their products. There is considerable debate about how
to structure fees to accomplish the desired goals.

INFORM has done extensive research on EPR. For further information see
www.informinc.org <http://www.informinc.org>  and click on EPR.


Bette Fishbein

Bette Fishbein
Fishbein@informinc.org
INFORM,Inc.
120 Wall Street
New York, N.Y. 10005
212 361-2400 ext 230
fax 212 361-2412

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