With a Little Help from EPR?: Technological Change and Innovation in the Norwegian Plastic Packaging and Electronics Sectors


  • Kjetil Røine,

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      A research fellow with the Industrial Ecology Programme at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, a guest researcher at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Lysaker, Norway, and a senior analyst at Point Carbon in Oslo, Norway.

  • Chin-Yu Lee

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      A research assistant at NTNU's Industrial Ecology Programme.

Industrial Ecology Programme Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) N-7491 Trondheim, Norway. <kjetil.roine@indecol.ntnu.no>, <www.indecol.ntnu.no>


In this article we discuss the interplay between extended producer responsibility (EPR) and technological change and innovation (TCI) in Norway. We ask whether Norwegian EPR policy has an effect on TCI and, if so, whether it makes any difference how the EPR policies are designed. By carrying out a comparative study between the plastic packaging (PP) sector and electrical and electronic (EE) sector in Norway, we conclude that there is a correlation between Norwegian EPR policy and TCI, but the causality is rather weak. EPR has an effect on downstream activities through increased recycling and indirectly through institutional innovation and learning. It does not, however, make a significant difference how the policies are designed, because they are considered similar by a majority of actors contributing financially to the EPR schemes. As for technological change and innovation upstream, the role of Norwegian EPR policies in the observed trends is not significant. Other factors such as the EPR-based Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive promulgated by the European Union (EE sector) and the need for competitiveness (PP sector) seem far more important. In order to make collective EPR policies more powerful in inducing technological change and innovation, decision-makers should consider more specific measures that directly address the core businesses of the producers.