What is EPR?
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), also known as Product Stewardship, is a strategy to place a shared responsibility for end-of-life product management on the producers, and all entities involved in the product chain, instead of the general public; while encouraging product design changes that minimize a negative impact on human health and the environment at every stage of the product's lifecycle. This allows the costs of treatment and disposal to be incorporated into the total cost of a product. It places primary responsibility on the producer, or brand owner, who makes design and marketing decisions. It also creates a setting for markets to emerge that truly reflect the environmental impacts of a product, and to which producers and consumers respond.
On March 8, 2011, a California Assembly hearing was held to discuss EPR policy and featured testimony from a wide variety of experts including representatives from manufacturers, stewardship organizations, retailers, local government, and environmental groups. The discussion covered the economic and environmental impacts of EPR in other regions and how California could benefit from this policy. It highlighted that new jobs are created, not merely shifted from one company to another.
Over the years, CalRecycle's predecessor, the California Integrated Waste Management Board, engaged in a variety of program activities concerning products and their impact on the environment. These efforts continue as CalRecycle seeks a comprehensive approach for advancing EPR, building upon the efforts elsewhere in the world.
Most CalRecycle activities in the past have focused on better managing the impacts of product discards, rather than focusing on how to eliminate waste in the first place. EPR is a waste reduction strategy. By shifting costs and responsibilities of product discards to producers and others who directly benefit, EPR provides an incentive to eliminate waste and pollution through product design changes. It allows CalRecycle to better carry out its mission for the citizens of California.
In February 2007, the California Integrated Waste Management Board, adopted a set of Strategic Directives that included Strategic Directive 5: Producer Responsibility: This policy directs staff to seek statutory authority to foster "cradle-to-cradle" producer responsibility and develop producer-financed and producer-managed systems for product discards. Numerous local governments in California have demonstrated their support by adopting producer responsibility resolutions (hosted by the California Product Stewardship Council).
EPR Framework and Checklist: Serve as a guide for proposals that seek statutory changes that would allow CalRecycle and other stakeholders to implement product stewardship programs. The EPR Framework covers the following topics:
- Guiding Principles
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Product Selection