Extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation, making producers responsible for financing and organizing take-back and recycling of waste batteries, packaging, end-of-life vehicles (ELVs), and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), has been or is currently in the process of being implemented in 29 different countries in Europe following introduction of European Union directives. This article reviews the potential impacts of EPR for waste batteries, packaging, and WEEE on producers distributing products in Europe through a case study of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE)—responsible for marketing and distribution of PlayStation products.
There are presently more than 250 producer responsibility organizations (PROs) established to meet EPR obligations in Europe, which contrasts to the single national recycling schemes founded in the late 1990s. SCEE estimates it avoided anetcostof €408,000 in 2005 by introducing competitive review of PRO services (against a total net take-back cost of €401,000).To meet increasingly extensive compliance obligations, SCEE has initiated new activities, with considerable implications for the company's legal, sales data administration, procurement, accounting, and product and packaging approval practices.
Considering the ultimate aim of EPR to establish economic incentives for improved product design, several significant political and practical obstacles are described from SCEE's case and industry situation. Although the principle of EPR is indeed interesting, its practical application in Europe may require refinement. Producers, given adequate support by policy makers, still have opportunities to develop new processes under the WEEE Directive to facilitate design for the environment.