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A Handbook of Industrial Ecology

Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres

Industrial ecology is coming of age and this superb book brings together leading scholars to present a state-of-the-art overviews of the subject. Each part of the book comprehensively covers the following issues in a systematic style: the goals and achievements of industrial ecology and the history of the field; methodology, covering the main approaches to analysis and assessment; economics and industrial ecology; industrial ecology at the national/regional level; industrial ecology at the sectoral/materials level; and applications and policy implications.
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Chapter 42: Industrial ecology and extended producer responsibility

John Gertsakis, Nicola Morelli and Chris Ryan


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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