3.6 Extended Producer Responsibility

IndWMPs can include voluntary producer responsibility schemes for particular waste streams whereby producers, importers or retailers take responsibility for the waste generated by their products beyond point-of-sale and choose the most effective way of meeting their responsibilities.

The Waste Act also provides for the declaration of mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes whereby the Minister prescribes how a waste stream should be managed and the required funding mechanism to do so. Mandatory EPR schemes can be declared when voluntary schemes provided for by IndWMPs have failed to effectively manage a waste stream.

3.6.1 Identifying products, groups of products or waste streams for EPR

It is the Minister's prerogative to declare the application of EPR to a product, group of products or waste stream. The declaration must be done in consultation with the Minister of Trade and Industry by notice in the government gazette. The Minister must also consult the Minister of Finance regarding any financial arrangements for an EPR programme. This is especially pertinent where the EPR programme is likely to require changes to product design, or impact significantly on the economy or economic sectors.

The characteristics of a product determine if an EPR programme is appropriate for it. Products with the following characteristics are candidates:

  1. Products with toxic constituents that may become a problem at the end of life. Examples include: batteries, electronics, used oil, pharmaceuticals, paint and paint products (latex oil-based paints and thinners), pesticides, radioactive materials, products containing mercury and cadmium including thermometers, thermostats, electrical switches (including automotive), and fluorescent lamps.
  2. Large products that are not easily and conveniently thrown out as waste. Examples include: carpets, building materials, TVs, computers, appliances, tyres, propane tanks and gas canisters.
  3. Products with multiple material types that make them difficult to recover in traditional recycling systems. Examples include: packaging, electronics, and vehicles.

A risk-based evaluation will establish if a product, group of products or waste stream is suitable for EPR and its consequences. This may include an assessment of legal and administrative difficulties, such as the potential impact on waste avoidance, economic implications (including job creation), potential for contravention of competition requirements, enforcement and the potential for illegal activities. The risk-based evaluation will draw on scientific information and take into account the country's obligations with respect to any applicable international agreements.

The design of the EPR measures for mandatory schemes will include appropriate funding mechanisms to attract consumer participation, the establishment of cost-effective collection and return networks for discarded products, the identification of markets and uses for returned products and materials, and achieving co-operation where multiple firms are involved. This will be done in consultation with the affected producers of the product, group of products or waste stream under consideration.

DEA will develop a set of guidelines in consultation with industry to assist with the development of voluntary and mandatory EPR programmes.

It is important to note that the state is not obliged to fund EPR initiatives, and that the primary obligation for funding rests with producers, retailers and consumers along the value chain. Financial arrangements will need to be tailored to individual EPR programmes, and the key challenge will be to establish who along the value chain bears what portion of the costs. DEA will develop a guideline on the distribution of costs for EPR programmes in consultation with industry.

Figure 3: Process for declaring an EPR programme

Figure 3: Process for declaring an EPR programme