Study links EPR innovation with competitive environments

A new study has found that extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes tend to perform better when there is competition between multiple producer responsibility organisations (PROs).

The study, entitled ‘Analysis of Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes’, was conducted by think tank Adelphi on behalf of the European Recycling Platform in June.

Four multicoloured bins, from left to right – yellow, blue, red, and greenAssessing the performance of different EPR schemes in Europe, it used six selected case studies under consideration of nine environmental, economic, and technical key performance indicators, such as collection and recycling rates, costs for producers, and stakeholder satisfaction.

When operating in a competitive environment, the study says, PROs show a strong focus on driving innovation and improving the services offered to producers.

This also tends to result in higher customer satisfaction and ensures a cost-efficient implementation of waste management activities such as collection, sorting, and recycling.

Monopolistic systems, on the other hand, tend to rely on effective but often costly innovation and have a higher risk of market power abuse if transparency is insufficient, with these results holding for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), batteries, and packaging.

The study also provides recommendations on how to further strengthen the performance of competitive EPR schemes.

In order to further strengthen the performance of competitive EPR schemes, the study says, a level playing field should be achieved between multiple producer responsibility organisations through establishing coordination bodies independent of private interest.

The main tasks of these mandatory bodies would be to coordinate and monitor the allocation of collection responsibilities, to manage joint activities such as awareness campaigns, and to function as an intermediary between PROs and other stakeholders such as local authorities.

The study further recommends working towards an EU-wide harmonisation of the criteria for the eco-modulation of EPR fees.

Jan Patrick Schulz, CEO of PRO Landbell Group, commented: “Extended producer responsibility has proven over the last years to be a very effective means to tackle one of society’s most pressing issues: the growing amount of waste.

“As the new study suggests, this instrument is particularly powerful and cost-efficient when there is competition between multiple actors.

“In order to accelerate the transition towards circularity, we need to remove barriers for competition and avoid a concentration of market power at all stages of waste management.

"Landbell Group has implemented competitive extended producer responsibility throughout Europe for over 20 years and is committed to maintain this role for the journey ahead.”