Extended Producer Responsibility

    Extended producer responsibility is a term to encourage vendors to be accountable for waste generated in the manufacturing and consumption of products and services. As garbage generation and infrastructure costs rise, more and more managers are paying attention to costs in dealing with waste generated from vendor contracts. Additionally, manufacturers are slowly being held accountable for the waste generated in the manufacture of products. In Germany, a law was passed called the German Packaging Law. This law makes the manufacturer take back all the packaging and end use products generated at the consumer end. The result has been greatly reduced packaging and better product design for repair and recycling. This idea is beginning to take hold in the US. This has been fueled by the increasing problem with electronics such as computers, though this is not a new problem (look at how many cars and tires are ending up in the landfill for example). Many states have started bringing up the idea of having laws to make computer companies accountable for their waste.

Many companies are taking the helm on this issue and have been proactive in setting an example. Many carpet companies are providing industry contracts that take back and provide recycling opportunities for end use carpet while in return are creating carpet made of recycled materials. This has saved the carpet companies money while greatly reducing the impact of carpets in the landfill. This is just one example of how industry is finding sustainable business an economic advantage. Other companies have been forced to take this step in Europe while not yet bringing this technology to the United States. With proactive corporations and acknowledgment of this problem (with computers at the head of the list), more states and Universities are working with contracts to incorporate this practice into the bidding process. When designing campus contracts, work with the Purchasing managers to encourage this process in all contracts. It saves money and reduces the burden on the community.

In the United States, extended producer responsibility is taking hold in the legislative process. Electronics laws are being passed to ensure that these electronics get recycled with responsibility falling on the manufacturers as opposed to municipalities. Hopefully, these efforts will expand to include take back programs and incentives for industry and corporations to be responsible for the waste generated through manufacture and disposal of products.

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