In a world in which sustained demographic and economic growth are exerting increasing pressures on natural resources, establishing a resource efficient economy is central to greening growth. The total volume of material extracted or harvested worldwide reached nearly 72 billion metric tonnes in 2010, doubling since 1980 and an estimated ten-fold increase over the last century. Curbing these trends requires policies that improve resource productivity and that ensure sustainable materials management, building on the principle of the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – and encouraging more sustainable consumption patterns.

In this context, extended producer responsibility (EPR), an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle have become common. Currently about 400 such schemes are in operation across the world, most of them in the OECD and some in emerging market economies. While extended producer responsibility systems have contributed to significantly increasing material recovery rates from certain waste streams, as well as providing a reliable source of funding for the collection and recycling of waste, the economic and environmental performance of these systems appears to be highly disparate. As a consequence, there is a sustained debate about the way EPR systems should be designed.

This report contributes to this debate by providing updated guidance on the design of EPR. This work updates the OECD Guidance Manual for Governments, published in 2001, by drawing on recent experience, deepening the analysis in selected areas and adding a discussion on the particular challenges faced by developing countries.

Chapters 1and 2 provide an introduction and compile updated guidance and recommendations on EPRs. These chapters constitute Part I of the Guidance. The remaining chapters constitute Part II, and provide more in-depth analyses of a number of key elements of EPR schemes that underlie the updated guidance. Chapter 2 discusses governance, Chapter 3 competition, Chapter 4 design for the environment, and Chapter 5 on the informal sector. The annex provides summary versions of country case studies that were provided by member countries and partners as an input to the Global Forum on Environment focusing on Extended Producer Responsibility that took place in June 2014 in Tokyo.

This review was overseen by the OECD Working Party on Resource Productivity and Waste (WPRPW) and benefited from the documents prepared for, and the discussions at, the Global Forum on EPR that took place in Tokyo and the support provided by an ad hoc expert group.

At a time when many governments are grappling with the challenge of developing a policy mix that can support the transition towards a more resource efficient, circular economy, this report provides some valuable guidance concerning one of the policy approaches that can assist.


Simon Upton

Director, OECD Environment Directorate