EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility): Everything You Need to Know

Published on 2023-06-30

All citizens are familiar with the basic rules of recycling: packaging in the yellow container, paper and cardboard in the blue one, and glass in the green one. But have you ever wondered what happens after you deposit your materials in the corresponding containers?

In this post, we will talk about EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) and discover why this concept plays a fundamental role in the life cycle of recyclable materials.

What is EPR?

Firstly, it's important to clarify that when we refer to EPR, we are not talking about the English term "scrap" which means "chatarra" in Spanish (scrap or junk). Instead, we are referring to the Spanish acronym for "Sistemas Colectivos de Responsabilidad Ampliada del Productor" (Producer Extended Responsibility Collective Systems).

According to the principles of the circular economy, the materials from the packaging we deposit in different containers must be properly processed. The main objective is to recycle these materials as much as possible, maximizing their use and preventing them from becoming polluting waste. But how is this achieved?

According to the Royal Decree 1055/2022, of December 27, on packaging and packaging waste, manufacturers are obligated to take care of their own waste, from its collection to its treatment and valorization. To ensure that this process is carried out effectively, EPR emerges as key actors to promote proper waste management and encourage the implementation of the circular economy in companies.

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) are a set of measures and tools aimed at promoting the collection, management, and valorization of waste generated by products. These systems seek to ensure comprehensive waste management, involving producers in their extended responsibility from the production stage to the end of the products life cycle.

These systems, in the form of non-profit organizations, bring together companies handling various types of waste with the purpose of fulfilling the obligations derived from Producer Extended Responsibility (EPR) or Extended Producer Responsibility. Essentially, this means that producers must take responsibility for the waste management of the products they put on the market, also reducing their production. In other words, "the polluter pays."

In this way, ecological responsibility does not only fall on ordinary citizens but extends to all actors in society.

In summary, EPR plays a fundamental role in establishing a value chain that ensures sustainable waste management and promotes the implementation of the circular economy. By collaborating with various stakeholders in the waste sector, such as collection companies, transporters, and treatment and recycling plants, these systems contribute for reducing dependence on natural resources and decreasing the associated environmental impact. Working together, they maximize efficiency in waste management and promote more sustainable practices throughout the value chain.

Benefits of EPR

Producer Extended Responsibility (EPR) offer several significant benefits to society and the environment. Some of the most important ones include:

Promotion of the circular economy

EPR promotes the circular economy by encouraging the recycling of waste. By promoting the circularity of materials, dependence on natural resources is reduced, and the extraction of new resources is minimized. This contributes to a more efficient use of resources and the preservation of ecosystems.

Reduction of environmental footprint

Proper waste management through EPR avoids its accumulation in landfills and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases. By diverting waste from landfills and promoting its recycling and valorization, soil, water, and air pollution are minimized, thus respecting the environment. Additionally, it helps to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of new materials.

Shared responsibility

EPR establishes shared responsibility among producers, distributors, and waste managers. All actors involved in the value chain assume their part in waste management, from the production stage to its treatment and revalorization. This promotes greater awareness and commitment to the responsible management of products and their waste, avoiding their abandonment or improper disposal.

Equitable financing

The costs of waste management are borne by producers and distributors through EPR, avoiding them falling on society as a whole. This creates a more equitable system where those responsible for putting products on the market also take responsibility for their entire life cycle, including waste management. Thus, it promotes a fair distribution of the costs associated with waste management.

Transparency and efficiency

EPR promotes transparency in waste management by requiring the accountable parties to report to the competent authorities. These systems establish clear standards and objectives that must be met to ensure efficient waste management. Accountability and compliance with regulations promote efficiency in processes and ensure that waste is managed properly, minimizing negative impacts on the environment.

In summary, EPR offers significant benefits by promoting the circular economy, reducing the environmental footprint, establishing shared responsibility, ensuring equitable financing, and fostering transparency and efficiency in waste management.

How to participate in a EPR system?

If your company is interested in participating in a EPR system, we recommend that you first inquire whether there is already a system for the type of product you manufacture, import, or distribute. If so, you will need to contact the responsible organization to register and start fulfilling your environmental obligations. Once registered, you will be required to pay a fee for product management and comply with established measures, such as keeping a record of the quantity of waste generated and managed.

It is also important to consider improving the design of your products to reduce the amount of waste they generate and facilitate their management. This way, you can contribute to the improvement of the system and reduce the negative environmental and social impacts associated with waste generation.

If you need information about a EPR system for the management of industrial and commercial packaging and how to participate in it, ENVALORA can provide you with all the necessary advice. You can contact them through their website.

Naeco and EPR systems

At Naeco, we have a strong commitment to sustainability, considering it one of our fundamental pillars. Through our comprehensive process, we can maximize the residual value of our products while promoting the circular economy.

The eco-label that identifies our pallets, boxes, and containers is based on our brand's exclusive and original index, which follows the 3R philosophy: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. With the entry into force of Law 7/2022 on waste and contaminated soils on January 1, 2023, we have updated it to comply with the requirements of this new regulation. Through this eco-label, our customers will find information about sustainability and whether the purchased product is exempt from plastic tax or not.