In a new position paper, Ecommerce Europe calls for the setting-up of a multi-stakeholder group for the harmonisation and simplification of Extended Producer Responsibility in the EU.
The tool of Extended Producer Responsibility represents an increasingly strategic policy instrument to accompany the transition to a circular economy. The European Union and Member States have recognised the role that EPR can play in supporting the growth of more sustainable practices throughout a product’s life. While successful EPR schemes are leading to positive improvements, the continued development of new rules and different approaches and practices have led to an important fragmentation between – and sometimes within – countries, creating increasing complexity for companies to contribute to the transition to a circular economy and meet their obligations.
As illustrated in Ecommerce Europe’s campaign on Extended Producer Responsibility policies that work for SMEs, fulfilling these administrative requirements means up to 300 reports submitted every year, which equates to almost 40 working days per year to comply with e-waste, batteries and packaging rules. Adding costs for registration, project management, reporting costs, today, a small or medium-sized enterprise intending to sell 1 mobile phone unit in each of the current 27 EU markets could face administrative costs equivalent to 140K euros, while the actual recycling fees can be as low as 1 eurocent.
Ecommerce Europe is therefore calling for a common effort to simplify, harmonise and digitalise EPR systems across the EU, complemented by further efforts in terms of consumer awareness and education. This is crucial to reach the full potential of EPR, in terms of common contribution to the end-of-life of product, transition to more circular products and availability of high-quality secondary material.
Many opportunities to set the right basis for the future of EPR, including through the creation of a multi-stakeholder group, will come in the coming months through new legislation on sustainable products, packaging, and waste.