Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) or Product Stewardship and Take-Back

What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

It means that producers are responsible for their products after they wear out. By having a plan, worn-out products can be reused, repaired, thrown away or recycled in the best and most efficient way possible, thereby reducing what gets disposed of in the landfill.

Are there other benefits? Yes, ERP reduces the burden on our local government’s waste management programs. This is especially important for hazardous materials such as batteries, fluorescent lamps and paint because these are expensive to handle.

What does this mean? This means savings to ratepayers. This is not a small issue. In fact, the Zero Waste Sonoma spends over $90,000 PER MONTH to manage products banned from landfill disposal. This amount can be reduced with take-back programs.

But that’s not all! Another benefit of EPR is that producers include waste in their bottom line. In other words, it helps producers to be more aware of the cost and difficulty of waste management. This awareness leads to better designs and systems for efficient handling. This benefits everybody, including the environment.

Simple things you can do to support Extended Producer Responsibility:

  • Take advantage of take-back programs—Patronize companies that offer voluntary take-back programs for the products they sell.
  • Reduce your packaging—Look for products that have reduced packaging.
  • And remember to bring reusable bags with you when you shop—you can reduce your own packaging waste, too!
  • Ask for more take-back programs—At the end of a product's life, ask the retailer or manufacturer to take it back.

Legislation that supports Extended Producer Responsibility:

  • SB 20 (2003) Established a funding system for the collection and recycling of certain electronic wastes.
  • AB 2901 (2004) Requires retailers selling cell phone take-back used cell phones for recycling.
  • AB 1125 (2005) Requires retailers of rechargeable batteries take-back spent rechargeables from their customers.
  • AB 1860 (2008) Ensures that manufacturers, who illegally sold products that get recalled, must pay and properly manage those products.
  • AB 2347 (2008) The Mercury Thermostat Collection Act ensured that as of July 1, 2009, mercury thermostat manufacturers must conduct public education and establish a free take-back system statewide for mercury thermostats.
  • AB 1343 (2010) Requires manufacturers to fund and manage recycling programs for used paints. It goes into effect in 2012.
  • AB 2398 (2010) Establishes the country’s first industry-financed carpet recycling program. The law, which goes into effect July, 2011, will require manufacturers to pay 5 cents per square yard of carpet sold in the state. The money will be used by each manufacturer, either individually or through a group, to implement a plan with the state to recover carpet.

The California Product Stewardship Council’s mission is to shift California’s product waste management system from one focused on government-funded and rate payer-financed waste diversion to one that relies on producer responsibility in order to reduce public costs and drive improvements in product design that promote environmental sustainability.

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