Chapter 42: Industrial ecology and extended producer responsibility
John Gertsakis, Nicola Morelli and Chris Ryan As noted in other chapters of this handbook, green design or design for environment (DFE) and cleaner production can address an extensive list of environmental issues throughout a product’s life cycle. Nevertheless, some impacts are currently beyond their control, especially those associated with discarded products. The bottleneck is often disposal, and it cannot be overemphasized that DFE features in a product can only facilitate – and not ensure – recycling. A relatively new direction in government policy is now being adopted by most OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. It encourages manufacturers, in particular, to accept greater responsibility for their products when they reach end-of-life (EOL) and are discarded. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) represents a more systematic approach with the potential to revolutionize the way products are conceived, used, recovered and ultimately re-used, recycled or disposed of. The OECD has provided a deﬁnition of extended producer responsibility: EPR is deﬁned, for the purposes of the OECD project, as the extension of the responsibilities of producers to the post-consumer stage of products’ life cycles. EPR strategies suggest that the use and post-consumer phases of a product’s life cycle are important aspects of the ‘pollution’ for which responsibility must be assumed under the Polluter Pays Principle. (OECD 1996b, pp.15–16) A key objective of EPR, given the OECD deﬁnition, is ‘to transfer the costs of municipal waste management from local authorities to those actors [i.e. the producers] most able to inﬂuence...
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