EPR in a non-OECD Context: An introduction to research projects on the management of WEEE
There has been an upsurge of interest in the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR) among policy makers and scholars in non-OECD countries. The principle has been applied and its impacts studied rather extensively in various OECD countries. However, similar experiences are largely lacking in non-OECD countries. This paper presents some ongoing research and preliminary findings on the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The research aims to explore both potentials and limitations of EPR under non-OECD conditions. Hitherto, there have been four projects in three countries: India, Thailand, and Argentina. The first project in India in 2007 investigated the specificity of this non-OECD context and the explanatory boundary of the principle. The second phase of the research studies a WEEE policy development in the three countries. At the time of writing, they appear to follow different courses of action. The India Government issued a guideline suggesting an incorporation of WEEE under the existing Hazardous Waste Rules. The Thai Government shows particular interest in economic instruments, such as product fees and deposit-refund system, and has been working on a draft law that would govern the use of these instruments for the management of some WEEE and other used products. In Argentina, a senator proposed a dedicated WEEE framework law based on EPR. Our analysis identifies collection of post-consumer WEEE as a major practical bottleneck particularly when there is a strong presence of the so-called informal sector. EPR can be a driving force for improvements by mobilising resources from producers and channelling them to end-of-life management. In addition, in a long run, it can lead to design changes in products and product systems. However, market anomalies in a non-OECD context such as sizeable black/grey markets for several product groups and/or illegal import of used products can put identifiable legal producers at a disadvantageous position and retard feedback mechanisms in an EPR programme. Thus, the applicability of policy alternatives should be assessed against the conditions of particular contexts. We also discuss the importance of problem definition in policy processes.
- Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
- waste electrical and electronic equipment
- Extended producer responsibility
8th Asia Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production