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What Is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?

September 2, 2022

What Is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?

Waste has a significant environmental effect because it can take centuries for certain harmful products and chemicals to decompose. It’s an issue that’s hugely damaging to society and the environment.

With so much trash piling up in landfills worldwide, all parties must adequately handle waste products at their end of life. To reduce waste production and dispose of it more efficiently, extended producer responsibility (EPR) comes into play. But what is extended producer responsibility? Below we address the following:

  • What Is EPR?
  • Why Does EPR Matter?
  • What Is the Future of EPR?

What is extended producer responsibility (EPR)?

So what is an EPR? EPR is a strategy that requires producers to be accountable for managing the entire life cycle of their products. The term refers to a set of regulations that compel manufacturers to anticipate the environmental impacts of their production chain.

Extended producer responsibility typically includes obligations for recycling and safe disposal of a product at the end of its life.

Producers are responsible for managing their products throughout different stages, such as:

  • Design
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution
  • Use

They also pay the cost associated with material recovery and disposal of their products at end-of-life instead of passing these costs on to taxpayers.

Policymakers and stakeholders worldwide are implementing EPR to reduce waste and achieve sustainable development objectives. It has become a critical way of preventing any adverse impact on the surrounding environment.

EPR protects human health and public welfare due to its environmental impact. The concept aims at controlling pollution and protecting the integrity of natural habitats and ecosystems while improving resource efficiency.

What does EPR mean for consumers?

Modern EPR programs cover the interests of consumers who want to receive full-value products in return for their money. They’re the final link in the supply chain regarding waste production.

Producers must also be responsible for informing their customers about their product’s life cycle and environmental impact. Providing information on the material reuse and recycling processes promotes resource efficiency.

The information provided in EPR programs helps consumers make an informed purchase when buying products such as extended producer responsibility plastic. They can assess the environmental and social impacts before they decide whether to purchase a product.

As a consumer and the last step in the supply chain, it’s your responsibility to ensure proper disposal. Using products from EPR-compliant organizations contributes to a dynamic system that minimizes environmental degradation.

Why does EPR matter?

The effects of poor waste management can last for generations. The hazardous products that result can cause significant environmental, economic, and social issues.

Making producers responsible for the entire life cycle of their products is a way to reduce the effects of poor waste management. EPR policies mitigate the impact of poor waste management by safely disposing of end-of-life products while motivating producers to create better use and disposal methods.

Why does EPR matter to the business?

EPR promotes stewardship in the supply chain. Producers adopt sustainable production processes to minimize their environmental impact.

EPR programs require producers to be transparent about each step of their production process. The information provided provides opportunities for businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors.

A business that offers environmentally friendly products will gain customer trust and loyalty. The company will also benefit from compliance with regulations and improved relationships with consumers, government entities, communities, and other stakeholders.

How does EPR work?

Governments enact EPR programs through legislation to promote sustainability in the production chain. The EPR programs require manufacturers to implement responsible waste management practices.

Producers can fulfill the required obligations independently or outsource them to a third party. The needed tasks may include:

  • Implementation of management practices
  • Fulfillment of reporting responsibilities
  • Payment of a fee as per the prescribed fee schedule (i.e., packaging tax)

What is the future of EPR?

EPR has been implemented in various forms and with multiple levels of success. EPR programs have been successful in Europe, and other regions are following suit. In the US, the number of EPR programs is rapidly increasing.

EPR programs are more likely to be enacted on a state-wide level than at the federal level. States have the power to regulate producers within their boundaries. Several states like Maine have already passed legislation requiring EPR and released a schedule for implementation.

The future of EPR programs looks bright, with much public and political support available for these EPR projects.


So what is EPR? EPR works by requiring manufacturers to be responsible for all aspects of their production process. It reduces waste and improves the sustainability of a product’s life cycle. This way, they can better manage their products at the end of their life to avoid any adverse impact on the environment and people.

Ultimately, EPR enables government agencies, businesses, cities, and consumers to work together towards a common goal: a sustainable future. At Second Life, our plastic recovery projects empower companies to reduce waste, helping make the common goal a reality.