What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy approach that makes producers responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products, including design, take-back, recycling, and final disposal. Rather than targeting a single point within the supply chain, EPR legislation pertains to the environmental characteristics of products and production processes throughout the product chain. 

Continue reading to learn more about EPR and what it means for producers in the supply chain. 

What is an EPR policy?

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), EPR policies are characterized by the following:  

  • The shifting of responsibility upstream toward the producer and away from municipalities
  • The provision of incentives for producers to consider environmental impacts when designing products    

Any type of product can be within the scope of EPR legislation, but the three core product categories are WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), packaging, and batteries. Legislators have prioritized these categories based on the volume and toxicity of their waste streams. 

Which countries have EPR legislation?

While EPR legislation in the European Union (EU) was the first to be implemented, it now exists worldwide, including in India, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the United States. Despite its global presence, EPR legislation varies not only by country but also between regions, states, provinces, etc.—from tariffs and fee structures to schedules and reporting requirements. 

Who is considered a producer under EPR?

Any business that manufactures, imports, sells, or brand-owns any product or packaging that falls within the scope of EPR can be considered a producer under EPR. Companies that meet any of the producer obligation criteria must check for EPR legislation in each country they operate in to assess their compliance. Countries may also have added thresholds for businesses, such as turnover and quantity of products or packaging placed on the market. 

How do companies comply with EPR?

While EPR legislation varies worldwide, producers are commonly required to complete the following steps to comply:  

  • Register directly with the proper governmental body and/or authorized scheme/program
  • Finance the collection, recycling, and recovery of waste
  • Report quantities of products/materials placed on the market 

As mentioned earlier, it is essential to research EPR legislation for each country in which your business is considered a producer to clarify your specific compliance requirements. 

Challenges of EPR compliance

Due to differences in EPR legislation around the globe, EPR compliance is complex and resource intensive. When we talk to compliance professionals, they are often dealing with the following challenges: 

  • Collecting quality data from suppliers – As producers typically don’t have access to all the product data within their supply chain, they must rely on their suppliers to provide it before matching it with their sales data to generate reports. Contacting suppliers isn’t always a straightforward process, and some suppliers may not agree to provide the data when asked.
  • Preparing reports for differing EPR reporting requirements – There are different requirements or categories for EPR reporting worldwide, which can be overwhelming for businesses with operations in multiple countries.
  • Tracking changes to EPR legislation around the globe – EPR legislation changes frequently, and compliance teams often struggle to keep up. This makes it challenging for producers to follow updated reporting requirements and leaves them at risk of non-compliance. 

Preparing for emerging EPR legislation

As EPR legislation becomes more prominent across the globe, producers must be aware of emerging trends or changes to existing policies. The best way to stay current with and prepare for emerging EPR legislation is to work with a supply chain compliance partner like Source Intelligence, as changes can occur as frequently as every quarter.

Our webinar discussing emerging EPR regulations in North America is an excellent way to learn more about recent developments in the U.S. and Canada and the steps you can take to prepare for upcoming changes.

If you're looking for more in-depth information about global EPR, download our Introduction to Extended Producer Responsibility e-book.

Streamline EPR compliance with Source Intelligence

Source Intelligence offers a spectrum of services to help you manage and automate due diligence obligations arising from global EPR compliance reporting requirements, including WEEE, packaging, and batteries. We simplify the process by streamlining data collection and report building with the market’s most robust EPR compliance program.

Explore our EPR program to learn more about how we can help you streamline the complexities of EPR compliance. 

Explore Our EPR Program

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