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Impossible to recycle: the limitations of extended producer responsibility policies

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By illuminem briefings 🌎

· 2 min read


illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Earth.Org or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies, designed to shift waste disposal responsibility to producers, are failing to halt the sale of hard-to-recycle goods
Despite EPR's intent, the plastics industry's disinformation campaign and the inherent recycling challenges of plastics continue to burden public waste systems and harm the environment.

🔭 The context: EPR was conceptualized in 1990 to move waste management responsibilities from public systems to producers, encouraging waste reduction and sustainable designs
It has been implemented in various forms worldwide, notably in Europe through the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and in the US at the state level, targeting different waste types like electronics and plastics.

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The failure of EPR to address the production of non-recyclable goods contributes significantly to environmental degradation
Plastic pollution continues to harm ecosystems, with 25 million tons of plastic bottles annually adding to the crisis. This challenges the goals of a circular economy and sustainable product life cycles.

⏭️ What's next: Improvements in EPR are necessary to effectively combat the production and disposal of non-recyclable goods
This includes leveraging frameworks like the EU’s Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation to enforce better product design and life cycle management, emphasizing recyclability and reuse.

💬 One quote: "Every year, 855 billion sachets – each made of several layers of plastic bonded together and requiring expensive, technologically sophisticated equipment to recycle – are sold to poor consumers who lack access to any recycling infrastructure at all." – [Source]

📈 One stat: The global plastics industry was valued at $712 billion as of 2023.

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