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Keywords:

  • developing countries;
  • electronic waste;
  • industrial ecology;
  • policy analysis;
  • product buy-back;
  • recycling

Summary

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) sheds light on the dimmer side of production and consumption patterns in modern societies. The rapid increase in its quantity and complexity contribute to the challenges it poses to solid waste management systems. Several members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have relied on the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR) to tackle the issue, with varying degrees of success. Several non-OECD countries, including Thailand, are now developing WEEE programs and are looking for lessons from these first movers. This case study aims to provide an understanding both of this context and of the EPR program for WEEE proposed for Thailand. It finds that EPR mechanisms in general, and the proposed buy-back system financed by product fees in Thailand in particular, have a strong potential to consolidate WEEE collection for the formal recycling sector by offering end users monetary incentives. On the negative side, this is an expensive combination of policy instruments, and the institutional design of the governmental fund is rigid. The policy proposal also contains no mechanism for product redesign—one of the objectives in the national WEEE strategy. This article suggests that the effectiveness of the policy might benefit from more flexibility at the compliance scheme level, in order to lessen the monopoly of the governmental fund, as well as the introduction of differentiated fees to promote environmentally friendly products.