Posted on 04/05/2016 in category Legislation

BIR welcomes the OECD draft publication "Extended Producer Responsibility - Updated Guidance" with key reservations


BIR commends this OECD guidance to developing countries that look to EPR as a ‘tax-free’ means to establish waste management and recycling. The Guidance includes advice to avoid EPR monopolies and advices “transparent, non-discriminatory and competitive tenders.” The OECD notes “Arguably, the single most important challenge is to make EPR systems more transparent. EPRs should be required to make available the information needed to assess their performance and to identify ways in which they can be made more efficient and effective.”

BIR key reservations are that the report should have been much stronger with its advice to Governments to recognise that where there is well functioning recycling of end-of-life goods that EPR schemes are neither the most economic nor the most effective instruments. Furthermore that the report should have advised Governments to assess the need to keep EPR Schemes in place once they have a self-sustaining recycling infrastructure operating.

Since the late 1980ies Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has been implemented through some 400 schemes around the world. EPR aims to make producers responsible for the environmental impacts of their products from design and manufacture through to recycling.

EPR schemes use mechanisms such as: take-back requirements; and or advanced disposal fees; and or deposit/refund systems.

Most EPR Schemes are supported by legislation. Due to the mandatory requirements associated with many EPR schemes, BIR has been most concerned, in the interests of the private recycling companies in its membership and its member national association affiliates, that the OECD Guidance promotes in particular "Good governance" and "Fair competition" and does not restrict recyclers access to recyclables. The OECD Guidance comprises 5 chapters of which Chapter 2 details the governance of extended producer responsibility (EPR) and chapter 3 details EPR and competition.

Those unfamiliar with EPR assume as the producers take responsibility it is the producers that do the recycling, that is generally not the case. Recycling has a very very long history, indeed recycling activities pre-date manufacturing industry, so it should not be a surprise that recyclers provide their expertise and facilities to carry out the recycling of end-of-life goods whether with and without EPR schemes. Notwithstanding, many BIR member companies contract with EPR schemes to carry out recycling activities such as: collection of the end-of-life goods; depollution - the pre-treatment to remove hazardous substances and components; manual or mechanical separation of components and materials. Subsequently supplying the recycled secondary raw materials to metal-works, pulp-mills and other consuming industries.

For over 20 years BIR experts have actively contributed to the OECD work on recycling through the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC). BIR observes that this updated Guidance is an improvement, after all much experience has been gained from the 300 or so EPR schemes established over that decade and a half.

BIR Members may download the draft here using their login details. Members attending the BIR World Recycling Convention & Exhibition at the InterContinental Hotel, Budapester Strasse 2, Berlin 30 May to 1st June, will have the opportunity to hear more on this topic at the "International Environment Council" that takes place on Wednesday 1st June 2016.