Promoting Extended Producer Responsibility in international law

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Promoting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in international law for a sustainability transformation towards a circular economy
TES Academy transformation process, June 2023 to summer 2024

Table of Contents



Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has been increasingly discussed as a concept to solve the current waste problems for specific products. As originally introduced by Swedish economist Thomas Lindhqvist, it describes “an environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact of a product, by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling, and final disposal”. Proponents of EPR argue that by assigning the organizational responsibility for waste management to a producer, EPR could reduce the financial burden of municipalities and support the internalization of commonly externalized costs associated with waste. As such, EPR might also constitute a transformative framework for a shared responsibility for waste handling between producers and consumers, as the latter might contribute to a sustainable waste management through increased purchasing costs. More generally, EPR is thought to set incentives for developing a more sustainable product design that matches the idea of a circular economy.

In this context, the TES Academy, jointly with EPR experts at UBA, has set up this collaboration process to further explore the transformative potential of EPR – in more general terms, but also in specific contexts, such as the negotations of the UN Plastics Pollution Convention. The process, with several workshops and virtual joint activities in between, is expected to last for about 10 months.

For more details on the background, see our Concept Note.


First Workshop 27th-29th June 2023

As first step in the process, the TES Academy conducted a workshop with 25 experts from administrations, academia, NGOs, international organizations and companies. The aim was to initiate exchange and mutual learning on EPR in the international context and its transformative potential. Participants joined from a number of European countries, Africa and North America. At the workshop, joint work streams for the coming months were identified.

For the approach and outcome of the workshop, please check our Review.


Working phase

With overarching activities, we currently continue the mutual learning and collaboration process with some in-depth work. The following working groups were set up:

  1. “Policy Paper” on EPR and its transformative potential - towards a common vision on EPR? 
  2. EPR and international law in the context of the UN Plastics Pollution Convention
  3. Scoping potential exchange activities on the revision of the EU WEEE directive

All groups met several times in virtual formats for mutual information and discussion.

The aim is to finalise the work with the joint policy paper in autumn 2024 and publish it in the context of the ongoing global discussions on EPR.


Virtual TES Series

In addition to the working groups, we will invite to a number of public virtual events in our Virtual TES Series to present and discuss general aspects of EPR and transformation – new dates will be annoced on Series: Extended Producer Responsibility in international law

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