Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is the responsibility of producers who design and market products for end-of-life treatment (Akenji et al., 2011). EPR has been applied to different products, notably packaging materials, vehicles, and electrical and electronic equipment. Policymakers apply EPR using four instruments: (1) product take-back requirements; (2) economic and market-based instruments such as deposit–refund schemes, advanced disposal fee, material taxes, and upstream combination tax or subsidy that incentivises producers to comply with EPR; (3) regulations and performance standards such as minimum recycled content; and (4) accompanying information-based instruments such as raising public awareness (OECD, 2014).

In Japan, the Act on the Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging (Act No. 112 of 16 June 1995) effectively involves manufacturers to voluntarily conform to the guideline on design for recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Green PET bottles, commonly used for green-tea packaging, have been replaced with transparent ones. Manufacturers have also started producing thinner bottles, thus reducing resin in production and consequently minimising bottle weight (Hosoda, 2004). EPR has been set up for other plastic containers and packaging. Municipalities are responsible for properly sorting and packaging waste containers before these are sent to recyclers. Manufacturers are financially responsible for recycling their products. They may cooperate with producer responsibility organisations (PROs) such as the Japan Containers and Packaging Recycling Association, which outsources the recycling operations to registered recyclers selected through annual tenders under criteria set by the PRO (Yamakawa, 2016). A recycling fee proportional to the quantity of waste multiplied by full recycling cost of the product category is paid to PROs. However, due to the high cost, certain municipalities bypass PROs and contract directly with independent recyclers, undermining the system (Kurita, 2011). The fee paid by municipalities is much higher than the fee paid by manufacturers. For example, in 2003, municipalities paid about ¥423.5 billion (US$3.898 billion, as of 10 December 2019) for waste collection, sorting, and storing, which was 10 times the outlay of manufacturers (¥40 billion or US$0.368 billion, as of 10 December 2019) (Yamakawa, 2016). A challenge for Japan is determining the positive and negative environmental impact as a result of shifting from heavy materials, such as glass bottles and steel cans, to light materials, such as PET bottles, aluminium cans, and paper cartons, which occurred as a result of the law (Yamakawa, 2016).

Similarly, the Republic of Korea (henceforth, Korea) has established EPR by imposing the deposit–refund scheme and advanced deposit fee (ADF). The deposit–refund scheme used to oblige producers and importers to deposit money into a special account and refund them based on the recovery rate (Lease, 2002). This scheme was terminated in 2003 and a new deposit–refund scheme was enforced under the Act on Resource Recirculation of Electrical and End of Life Vehicles (henceforth, the Eco-Assurance Act) and the Act on the Promotion of Saving and Recycling of Resources (henceforth, the Recycling Act) (Heo and Jung, 2014). The Eco-Assurance Act emphasises the responsibility of producers and importers to appropriately treat electrical and electronic equipment as well as vehicles after disposal. The Recycling Act facilitates the new scheme by combining the deposit–refund scheme and the take-back system. Article 15-2 enables producers and importers to include a certain amount (container deposit) in the product price to facilitate the recovery and reuse of containers, which are standardised based on certain specifications and marked as ‘container deposit refundable’ and ‘reusable’. The producers refund the deposit to the person who returns the containers. The producers or importers also reimburse the handling fee incurred by wholesalers or retailers for storing and transporting empty containers. The returned containers and refunding are managed in distribution support centres established by the producers. Producers of beverages have been utilising the scheme with the deposit of about 40% of the cost of manufacturing a new bottle (Heo and Jung, 2014). ADF is charged to producers and importers of hard-to-recycle products, including hazardous chemicals; anti-freeze solution; chewing gum; disposable diapers; cigarettes; and plastic products such as PVC pipes, toys, and kitchenware (OECD, 2014). Table 1 lists the ADF charged to certain products in Korea.

Table 1. Advanced Deposit Fees Charged to Certain Products in Korea

Recycling: Extended Producer Responsibility (Table 1)

Product Type and/or Size Deposit
Pesticides, hazardous chemicals Plastic container ≤500 ml 24.9/container
>500 ml 30.7/container
Glass bottle ≤500 ml 56.2/bottle
>500 ml 84.3/bottle
Metal can ≤500 ml 53.9/can
>500 ml 78.2/can
Anti-freeze solution - 189.8/litre
Chewing gum - 1.8% of price
Disposable diapers - 5.5/diaper
Cigarettes - 7/pack
Plastic products Construction plastic 75/kg
Other plastics 150/kg

Note: â‚©1=US$0.00086 as of 20 January 2020.

Source: Heo and Jung (2014).

In Korea, the challenge occurs when the recycling rate target of EPR products covers only 33% of the capacity of all recycling facilities available, which was 4.3 million tonnes/year (Heo and Jung, 2014). The supply of recyclable products is still unstable and less value-added. An online market platform was, therefore, developed to provide such information on nationwide supply and demand of recyclable products. The platform will facilitate networking amongst waste collectors, recyclers, and consumers. To enhance price competitiveness, Korea promotes competition between actors that tend to benefit from EPR schemes through PROs supported by governments. Six PROs are integrated into a single PRO called the Korea Package Recycling Association to reduce administrative costs. Through these efforts, Korea increases supply stability and value-added to EPR products.

Amongst ASEAN countries, Singapore has an ambitious initiative of targeting not later than 2025 the implementation of the EPR framework for managing packaging waste, including plastics. This initiative follows the Singapore Packaging Agreement amongst the government, industries, and non-governmental organisations. To support the initiative, Singapore, through the National Environment Agency, will introduce in 2020 the mandatory packaging reporting and 3R plans for packaging for producers of packaged products and supermarkets, legislated under the Resource Sustainability Act 2019 (Act No. 29 of 2019) (NEA, 2019).

Table 2 shows the status of EPR implementation in ASEAN countries.

Table 2. Extended Producer Responsibility Implementation in ASEAN Countries

Recycling: Extended Producer Responsibility (Table 2)

Country Legal Framework Stage of Implementation
Brunei No specific legal basis is in place. No extended producer responsibility (EPR) system is in place.
Cambodia No specific legal basis is in place. No EPR system is in place.
Indonesia Regulation of the Minister of Environment and Forestry No. P.75/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/10/2019 regarding Road Map to Waste Reduction by Producers EPR is still at the preparation stage of a waste reduction plan document by producers. In addition, the Packaging and Recycling Association for Indonesia Sustainable Environment (PRAISE) established the Indonesia Packaging Recovery Organization (IPRO), which aims to manage the supply of recyclables to contracted recyclers.
Lao PDR No specific legal basis is in place. No EPR system is in place.
Malaysia No specific legal basis is in place. No EPR system is in place. However, the Malaysian Plastics Manufactures Association (MPMPA) actively proposes to the government the EPR system for plastics packaging since the system still becomes a legislative concept without any legal framework for enforcement.
Myanmar No specific legal basis is in place. No EPR system is in place.
Thailand Specific legal basis is still at the drafting stage. In general, plastic waste management refers to Thailand’s Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management 2018–2030 and Action Plan on Plastic Waste Management Phase I (2020-2022). No EPR system is in place. However, the Thailand Institute of Packaging and Recycling Management for a Sustainable Environment (TIMPSE) has been commissioned to develop capacity building on the comprehensive management of used packaging and recycled materials. TIMPSE is to become the centre for a database on used packaging.
The Philippines No specific legal basis is in place. No EPR system is in place. However, private companies are conducting voluntary initiatives to foster recycling through the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Material Sustainability (PARMS).
Viet Nam Decision No. 16/2015/QĐ-TTg Providing Regulations on Recall and Treatment of Discarded Products The implementation of the decision about EPR in Viet Nam still meets some challenges, including lack of recycling capacity, supporting regulations, and benefits to maintain the system. Meanwhile, the Packaging Recycling Organization (PRO) Viet Nam is expected to be a driver to foster an EPR system for packaging.

Source: ASEAN (2020), Johannes et al. (2021).

Some challenges provide lessons from other ASEAN+3 countries. For example, the e-waste EPR scheme is facing a challenge in identifying producers. Most producers, especially in developing countries, are small unregistered manufacturers called free riders (Kojima et al., 2009). In Malaysia, over 60% of computers are assembled by small manufacturers. In Thailand, miscellaneous manufacturers produce 35% of assembled air conditioners. Asking small manufacturers to be responsible for their products’ end-of-life will be difficult. On the import of e-waste, anticipating smuggled and imitation products is a challenging issue. In Japan, recycling of orphan computers (those that have no responsible producers) from small unidentified manufacturers and smuggled and imitation products is financially shouldered by consumers (Kojima et al., 2009). The packaging and container recycling system in Japan exempts small-scale producers from such responsibility. If many unregistered small-scale traders import or if small industries produce or use packaging and containers, it may be difficult to implement the EPR system.


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