California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Who are you?

The Cradle-to-Cradle Concept

Learn about your roles and responsibilities in product stewardship by selecting from the audiences listed on the diagram, or use the links to the right of the page.

EPR Cradle-to-Cradle Concept Diagram Consumers Haulers, Recyclers, and Processors Retailers Producers, manufacturers, brand owners Raw material processors Government Stewardship organizations Standards

Starting at the bottom left of the diagram:

Raw materials are extracted from the earth. Many tons of materials may be moved and processed to create a few pounds of raw material. For example, in Indonesia miners need to extract and process 250 tons of rock and ore to obtain a single ounce of gold.

Raw materials are converted or processed into materials and chemicals that go to producers. Producers can include groups such as manufacturers, designers working for manufacturers, importers, and product brand owners. Producers have an important role in designing products, selecting the materials used, and packaging, all which can greatly influence how a final product impacts the environment.

The product then moves through a distribution and transportation system to a distributor or retailer or directly to an end customer.

Once a consumer uses the product, then what? It ideally gets reused or recycled, or if it is a biological nutrient and completely compostable, it may safely go back to the earth. A true cradle-to-cradle system allows materials to be used over and over and this makes the process sustainable--one that can go on indefinitely.

Products made from reused or recycled materials often use less energy and generate less pollution than products made with virgin materials because the first step of extracting raw materials may be eliminated or reduced. This means the benefits of reduce, reuse, and recycle go beyond saving materials. Fewer greenhouse gases and other types of pollution occur, too, providing an overall benefit when compared to the option of using virgin materials. A sustainable system for materials helps ensure there are resources available for growing economies.


iLarmer, Brook. "The Price of Gold" National Geographic, page 44, January 2009.

Last updated: June 24, 2010
Extended Producer Responsibility and Stewardship
Contact: (916) 341-6449