What is Extended Producer Responsibility?
The move towards zero waste is not just about responsible waste management, it’s also about sustainable consumer practices and sustainable retailer and manufacturing processes. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requires manufacturers to minimize the environmental impact of their products at each stage of the product’s lifecycle.
This includes taking responsibility for the product’s end-of-life by creating take-back programs for the reuse and recycling of their products (Producer Takeback).
When manufacturers take responsibility for the life cycle of their own products they:
- Use environmentally safer materials in the production process
- Consume fewer materials in the production process
- Design the product to last longer and be more useful
- Create safer recycling systems
- Are motivated to keep waste costs down
- No longer pass the cost of disposal to the government and the taxpayer
What Can I Do To Demand Extended Producer Responsibility?
Speak with Your $$
Don’t buy products from producers or resellers that have non-recyclable or excessive packaging. Buy in bulk when possible to reduce single-use packaging waste and show manufacturers what’s important to their consumers.
Write a Letter!
Let companies know that EPR is important to you. If you have to purchase an over-packaged product, send a letter to the manufacturer and let them know you don’t appreciate wasteful packaging practices. Most consumer labels include a corporate address.
Support EPR Legislation
Let your government know that you support EPR and will support pro-EPR legislation. The California Product Stewardship Council is a great resource for information on legislative activity around Extended Producer Responsibility. “Like” them on Facebook and follow their website for the latest information.
Take Advantage of Take-Back Programs
Patronize companies that offer voluntary take-back programs for the products they sell, such as Home Depot’s fluorescent bulb recycling program. To find recycling locations near you, visit the Earth911 website.
Ask for More Take-Back Programs
When you buy a product, don’t be afraid to ask the retailer to take-it-back at the end-of-life. If enough consumers request take-back programs, retailers and manufacturers will get the message and find ways to work together to make this happen. It really works!
Zero Waste Marin also has a great list of recycling resources and take-back programs! http://zerowastemarin.org/zero-waste-101/recycling-guide/