The Tomra Recycling business unit of Norway-based Tomra Group has issued a white paper identifying common traits of extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs that are designed to boost recycling rates.
Saying EPR “has the power to accelerate society’s shift toward a more circular economy,” Tomra says it prepared its 30-page report to serve “as a detailed guide for policymakers who design or develop EPR schemes, offering a multi-faceted perspective and practical insights to help achieve greater performance.”
Tomra has identified these five design principles in its report: 1) circularity, which incentivizes eco-design and uses reliable measurement protocols; 2) performance, which includes a well-defined scope, clear roles and responsibilities, and comprehensive targets that scale up over time; 3) convenience and user-friendly systems that increase the volumeof materials collected and processed effectively; 4) producer responsibility, which establishes clear rules for the management of discarded packaging; and 5) system integrity, which Tomra says ensures transparency and compliance to support the achievement of targets.
“Tomra’s first-hand experience in numerous markets on all continents has taught us which methods can be used to successfully address the challenge of managing post-consumer packaging waste, and which combinations work best,” says Wolfgang Ringel, a senior vice president with Tomra. “In some regions, where effective waste management systems have been established, more needs to be done to encourage the proper collection, sorting and recycling of valuable material that is simply thrown away. Implementing legally defined (in other words, mandatory) obligations covering the use of resources, and their responsible handling, is the way forward, as this will result in direct, active climate protection.”
In Asia, EPR initiatives have developed into cross-industry networks – a response to the fact that 80 percent of the plastic in the world’s oceans entered them via Asian waterways, says the equipment provider.
South Africa and Vietnam have recently implemented EPR for packaging, and several states within the United States are currently considering such measures, adds the company.
In Europe, the “robust targets defined in the 2019 Single-Use Plastics Directive have resulted in almost all EU member states introducing legislation on deposit-return systems for beverage containers that will be applied by 2029, says the vendor of sorting equipment and reverse vending machines.
“The implementation of EPR legislation is a transformative measure to improve both the quality and quantity of the resources that get recycled, thereby supporting the acceleration to a circular economy,” Tomra states.