EPR policies for electronics in developing Asia: an adapted phase-in approach

In Waste Management & Research
Volume (Issue): Onlinefirst, July 5, 2011
Peer-reviewed Article

The amount of e-waste is growing rapidly in developing countries, and the health and environmental problems resulting from poor management of this waste have become a concern for policy makers. In response to these challenges, a number of Asian developing countries have been inspired by policy developments in OECD countries, and have drafted legislations based on the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR). However, the experiences from developed countries show that a successful implementation of EPR policies requires adequate institutions and sufficient administrative capacity. Even advanced countries are thus facing difficulties. This paper concludes from existing literature and from the authors’ own observations that there seems to be a mismatch between the typical policy responses to e-waste problems in developing Asia and the capacity for successful implementation of such policies. It also notes that the e-waste situation in developing Asian countries is further complicated by a number of additional factors, such as difficulties in identifying producers, import of used electronic products and e-waste (sometimes illegal), and the existence of a strong informal waste sector. Given these challenges, the authors conclude that comprehensive EPR policy schemes of the kind that have been implemented in some advanced countries are not likely to be effective. The paper therefore proposes an alternative phase-in approach whereby developing Asian countries are able to move gradually towards EPR systems. It argues that this approach would be more feasible, and discusses what could be the key building blocks of each implementation stage.

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