BIR Position Paper on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
BIR, the Bureau of International Recycling, is the world federation which has been supporting the interests of the recycling industry on an international scale since 1948. As the largest international recycling federation, we represent over 30,000 companies across 70 countries, through 37 national associations and over 1000 direct corporate members. BIR covers eight material streams including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, paper, textiles, plastics and tyres/rubber, as well as electrical/electronic equipment.
BIR’s mission is to promote materials recycling, free and fair trade of recyclables in a sustainable and competitive world economy, the environmentally sound management of resources, and the use of recycled materials worldwide. In this respect, BIR would like to convey its key messages in relation to the growing interest in extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, which are perceived as a circular economy enabler.
I) Over recent decades, EPR schemes have been set up for various waste streams to apply the polluter pays principle. While BIR supports policy instruments to increase circularity, it is imperative that EPR schemes must not disrupt existing efficient markets. They should be set up only when there is a need and only once the effectiveness and the intrinsic value of a waste stream have been assessed. Preserving free and fair competition for the recycling industry is vital because recycled materials are subject to market complexities, such as supply and demand, and EPR schemes could disrupt efficient markets if not designed correctly.
II) Governments should first refer to other policy instruments to increase circularity such as making design for recycling mandatory and legally-binding recycled content targets. These are powerful tools to accelerate demand for recycled materials and level the playing field with extracted raw materials.
III) When and where EPR schemes are considered an absolute necessity, recyclers should be involved in the governance bodies of such schemes to ensure an appropriate balance of interests among the most relevant stakeholders in the value chain. Ownership of waste should be retained by the recycling company entrusted with the responsibility of processing the waste so that it can remain competitive and pursue continuous investment in the business. Furthermore, it is essential to have transparent and fair tenders and to avoid monopolies to comply with competition rules. BIR stands ready to engage with policy-makers and authorities in their efforts to increase recycling rates and circularity.
Download the full position paper below.