6 December 2016 – More than two decades ago, Thomas Lindhqvist, a Swedish professor of Environmental Economics, coined the term extended producer responsibility, or EPR. At the time, Lindhqvist defined EPR as an environmental strategy that makes producers responsible for the entire life cycle of their products, especially takeback, recycling and final disposal.
There are some that argue that because the obligation usually falls on the shoulders of distributors and wholesalers, deposit return is not EPR. This reflects a “purist” belief: that if EPR does not hold producers directly responsible for end-of-life management, there is no mechanism to influence the green design of the product. While this might make sense on the surface, experience has shown that companies downstream in the supply chain, such as retailers and distributors, do have the power to effect design change.
In this article, Clarissa makes the case for why deposit return programs are an exemplary model of EPR, despite arguments to the contrary.