What is Circular EPR?
Extended Producer Responsibility helps in funding, managing, and implementing products when they turn into waste. This system enables retailers and brand owners to manage the products and meet their recycling targets.
Circular EPR refers to a closed waste loop that forms a circular economic cycle to retain the market’s material value. This circular economy reflects the existing system, along with its circularity and outcomes. To know more about the EPR’s role in a circular economy, move forward in this article.
Understanding the concept of Circular EPR
The Circular EPR’s closed loops function on an incentive-driven take-back scheme that directs the use of recycled material for making products. The disposal of EPR waste is recovered to reuse it as raw materials instead of virgin material. The manufacturing of products in a circular loop will consume less energy and will not adversely affect the environment. It replaces linear thinking with the concept that everyone involved in the production should be responsible for end-of-life product management. With the help of this approach, producers can reduce the environmental impact of the harmful products by making them a part of the circular loop.
What is the role of EPR?
- The waste generated during manufacturing, sales, and distribution, including consumer goods, EPR assigns its responsibility to the manufacturer.
- EPR involves strategies of reusing, reducing, and recycling the waste.
- Extended producer responsibility is a government’s policy to reduce the use and effects of hazardous components in our environment.
- This strategy leads to a more eco-friendly design of products and lower cost of productions.
- With the help of EPR, many innovative and different kinds of packaging by the brands and industries to reduce plastic usage.
- The availability of producer responsibility organizations removed the burden of disposal from manufacturers. Now, many industrialists hire PRO who take care of the collection and disposal of waste.
About Circular EPR
Circular Economy (CE) is an old concept, and it is broadly based on retaining the practical use of products within the economic boundary.
Let’s look at the history of CE, and it has three phases :
- The first phase dealt with waste in the early stages of production. It includes using minimal hazardous chemical substances and going for eco-friendly materials. Thus, it reduces a lot of the percentage of environmental pollution problems. This phase saw the development of waste incineration and management plants.
- The second phase saw the development:
- The use of waste outputs as valuable inputs in various industries
- This time also saw the widespread implementation of recycling systems and integrated waste management processes.
3. During the third phase, the CE topic became very popular due to the various threats to the environment. Due to the increased percentage of industrialization, people started facing problems like:
- Resources depletion
- Excessive waste generation
- Loss of biodiversity
- Air, water, and land polluted with chemicals and waste
- The increasing number of plastic waste
So the processing of waste is divided into three parts here:
- The first is when the original manufacturer takes complete responsibility for the product that is collecting and processing.
- The second one is when a group of producers shares the responsibility for the disposal. This organization is called the Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO).
- Sometimes the PRO contacts a third party for handling the waste management. Product Responsibility Providers take responsibility on behalf of PRO for the disposal of waste.
Benefits of circular EPR
- Effective long term goals and objectives
- Continuous improvements
- The demanufacturing facilities to the public
- Eliminating any financial risk related to recycling, refurbishing, remanufacturing, and incineration
- Immediate economic feedback
- Reduced harm to the environment
- Less hazardous chemicals used to design the products
- Maintaining transparency
EPR is beneficial not only for the manufacturers but in the long run for a sustainable outcome.
EPR applies the ‘polluters pay principle’ by shifting the baggage of products’ financial cost and negative environmental impact on its producer’s shoulders.
EPR is the crucial element for the transition to a circular economy. Read further to know more about the circular EPR schemes and their implementation.
Aim of EPR
EPR covers two important environmental goals:
- The main objectives of EPR are to motivate the manufacturers to produce resource-efficient materials that have shallow negative impacts. EPR schemes allow the producer to design eco-friendly products that have deficient levels of hazardous compounds.
- Secondly, to give waste products a good collection and environmentally sound treatments. It helps create higher rates for recycling and reusing.
Key features of EPR schemes
There are many aspects taken into consideration when designing a circular EPR scheme:
- The product definition: This should include the type of product, its categories & subcategories, the material used, along with the kind of consumers.
- Proper registration of all producers: The requirements and obligations for all the producers should be equal. It should not differ or affect the medium and small-sized enterprises.
- Schemes are Individual or Collective Producer Responsibility: In individual responsibility, the producer is itself responsible for its products till the end. Collective producer responsibility is when the manufacturer joins a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) to look after the disposal of waste products.
- EPR approaches: Different approaches of the producers define their responsibilities:
- Finance: Obligation only to finance the existing management of waste products.
- Financial contracts: Producers set up formal agreements with the municipal corporation
- Partial organizations: manufacturers set up contracts with different organizations so that they can only concentrate on other responsibilities related to products
- Entire organizations: producers have direct contracts with recycling agencies and sometimes own a part of their waste infrastructure.
- Responsibilities and Targets: Producers should take into account mandatory targets that are set by the government. It should also include technical and economic feasibility, infrastructure requirements for waste management, and geographic and demographic characteristics.
- The average cost and fee: PRO’s should decide and set the proper value to cover the full net price of waste management. The total cost should include:
- Product related fees according to its categories and subcategories.
- The annual payment, including the producer’s membership fees and fixed element
- The various element distribution of a product distinguished by its recyclability and hazardousness
Potential steps to implement circular EPR:
- Undertake proper research studies related to circular EPR schemes, which should involve various case studies. Read about the benefits and opportunities of these schemes and investigate examples.
- Read about the government policies and legislation related to the EPR of the country. Consult with the key stakeholders like different businesses, local governments, waste management companies, and the informal sector.
- Form a network with aggregating, recycling, and manufacturing partners to move your waste from the collection point to the recycling point.
- The recycling point you select should have adequate methods and techniques to convert the waste into reusable raw materials. The recycled raw materials should be tested and verified by the recyclers or aggregators.
- Begin to support the required waste collection infrastructure and management.
- Establish a network and communications with like-minded businesses and corporations.
- Take the local government and informal sector’s help to understand the working of EPR in a better way.
- Try to create PRO, cooperate with other stakeholders, and waste management operators.
- Enable a blockchain system to track your products from haulers to processors to manufacturers. It makes the Circular EPR more traceable and transparent, plus is an opportunity to tap into the unaccountability and frustration surrounding the recycling systems.
Thus, by designing a perfect circular EPR business model, one can reduce the harmful impacts of hazardous products. Industries can increase sustainability along with their value in the market.
What are the benefits of going Circular?
The circular economy helps improve transparency, collaborations, monitoring in the EPR system. This service follows a closer loop chain, which allows the manufacturers and producers to retain the material value.
EPR based business models are used in many industrialized countries to recycle chemical waste. Here, in this article are mentioned a few benefits of opting for the circular economy as a model of waste management technique.
Encourage higher value recovery
One of the best advantages of going circular is the high focus on material recovery. The producers and manufacturers can give more priority to retreading, reuse, and repurposing. Many producers encourage eco designs that are easy to remanufacture and recycle plus provide a higher value of recoveries.
Autonomous or government establishes funds that can finance the transformative innovations in the products. There can be a differentiated fee for the sustainability of the products which will contain
- A product’s durability
- Product’s recyclability
- Percentage of content recycled
Adds to corporate sustainable goals
The present industrial evolution focuses on minimizing waste by redesigning the processes and enabling industrial symbiosis. The Circular EPR focuses on increasing productivity, shifts economics, and increases industrial growth with sustainable methods.
How is circular EPR adding to the corporate sustainable goals?
- The business strategy focus shifts from creating shareholder value to creating shared value, for example, incorporating ESG along with the financial returns in your corporate strategy.
- Companies work on the critical impact areas by identifying and handling the sustainability issues that affect their business.
- Corporations can link their sustainability goals and measure revenue generation, productivity, and risk management.
If the EPR system lacks the connections and effective collaborations between manufacturers, producers, and recyclers, it can affect sustainability. By further integrating recyclers and dismantlers, one can reinforce cooperation in the circular economy chain.
A sustainable circular economy includes a lot of aspects:
- About the intellectual property
- About the ownership
- Production methods used by manufacturers
- Participation in decision making
Greater involvement of civil society and public authorities can lead to a better EPR system management and governance. The wider social and environmental concerns will fall under the umbrella of the EPR system, which will improve transparency and liability.
Monitoring and continuous improvement
It is crucial to set renewed goals to promote the standard of the EPR system and higher retention values. With the help of circular producers can monitor and regulate EPR systems with the help of society oversight and government policies. Thus, improving targets and incentives for greater profits.
Provides complete traceability in your EPR:
- Capture data for each stage process and get an insight into the product’s history, the distribution cycle, the location covered, and what it is used for.
- The data related to the EPR can be validated but cannot be manipulated by a single party of the circular loop.
- This transparency provides a fundamental foundation for verifying claims and defending your organizations against any false complaint about the product.
For continuous improvement, overhaul the ways:
- For selecting the best processing options
- For choosing waste management dealers
- Investment takes place
Improving the environmental and social outcomes
The main motive of the circular economy is not just to form a closed resource loop chain but reduce the pressure of hazardous human activities. The opting circular economy is beneficial for the environment:
- One can focus on recovery and actual sustainable outcomes of the EPR system.
- With a more democratic and inclusive structure of EPR, there is an improvement in the socio-ecological outcome.
- Reduction in Plastics’ harmful impact on the environment by replacing the virgin plastics with recycled ones in the production stage
- The extended value chain governance forces the producers to stretch their responsibility beyond just processing of the product.
- It leads to an increase in the use of eco-friendly designs for products and avoid hazardous chemicals in products.
Circular models for business
If industries keep the ownership of products, they enjoy a direct incentive to produce easily recyclable and long-lasting materials in circular models. This circular service improves the reduction, reuse, and recycling of the products. Thus, affecting the consumption and export of products in a positive way.
Thus, circular models can help in transforming EPR strategies by overcoming the social and environmental challenges.