The responsible disposal of products at end-of-life is what forms the foundation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs. EPR is a strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of products.
EPR is referred to by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment as an “environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle.” In Canada, EPR includes three main pillars: the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, BlueBox and Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)—all of which largely impact the electrical industry in Canada.
A “Producer” is defined as the owner of a trademark or brand name for a product that is sold or distributed, or an entity that imports the product for sale or distribution within a given territory. This can include suppliers, distributors, as well as first importers and retailers. This regulatory definition aims to cover persons at the highest level of the marketing or distribution chain for a regulated product.
Source: BC Ministry of the Environment
In Canada, EPR is a provincial matter; each province has jurisdiction over the design, implementation and mandate of programs. Most provincial programs assign long-term environmental responsibility to producers in an attempt to internalize costs and convert the linear “cradle-to-grave” production and distribution chain into a “cradle-to-cradle” system that encourages improved product design to reduce resource use, reuse, and recycling. It is understood that all of these costs will be reflected in the price of the product—whether it be at the point of manufacture and distribution or at the point of consumer sale.
EPR programs change the traditional balance of responsibilities among the manufacturers and distributors of consumer goods, consumers and governments with regard to waste management. In other words, EPR extends traditional environmental responsibilities that producers and distributors have previously been assigned (workforce safety, prevention and treatment of environmental releases from production, financial and legal responsibility for the sound management of production wastes) to include waste management at the post-consumer stage.
To mitigate risk and ensure compliancy, it is important for manufacturers and distributors to work together to ensure all regulated products are accounted for.
For more information, contact Wayne Edwards, Vice President, Sustainability and Electrical Safety, EFC at firstname.lastname@example.org.