Creating a Repair Society

Policies, networks and people

EPR, Reuse and a Circular Economy

Current extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes have led to more material and energy recovery from waste streams, but they do not provide incentives for reaching the higher levels of the waste management hierarchy; e.g. the design of products that have a long lifespan, are easy to repair, or promoting re-use practices. While EPR should, in theory, give incentives for ecodesign, these incentives become difficult in the practical implementation through collective schemes that do not reward ecodesign. Though reuse is mentioned in EPR legislation, there are only mandatory targets for recycling.

Nevertheless, many actors Europe are promoting re-use schemes even in the absence of legal drivers. A recent CREACE study based on interviews looked at barriers and drivers for reuse of white goods. One finding was that current EPR systems can pose a barrier for reuse. They tend to focus on recycling, and fail to explicitly state targets for reuse, which results in infrastructure and incentives primarily organized for recycling. This focus on recycling explains why end-of-life products may be subject to rough transport and exposure to weather, which then reduce re-use potential.

WEEE collected, transported, and treated as waste limits re-use potential (image: dokumol)

The report also finds it can be costly to operate two separate material streams for reuse versus recycling. The study was presented in the paper ‘Legal and organisational issues when connecting resource flows and actors: re-use and producer responsibility schemes for white goods’, at the IS4CE2020 Conference of the International Society for the Circular Economy, Exeter.

If you are interested in the study, contact Carl Dalhammar:

September 7, 2020

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EU Policies

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