Unraveling the complexity of extended producer responsibility policy mix design, implementation, and transfer dynamics in the European Union

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pExtended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging was introduced to achieve closed‐loop end‐of‐life management and design for recyclability and is an integral part of the European Union's (EU) environmental policy mix. Despite common objectives, EPR systems differ across EU member states in design and implementation. Existing cross‐country comparisons often fall short of systematizing EPR and reflecting its complexity. Understanding the components and interdependencies of EPR is crucial for adjusting policy design. This article links previously isolated components of EPR and studies the design, implementation, and transfer of EPR systems in 25 European countries through a developmental approach. It extends EPR theory by systematizing EPR design features at three hierarchical levels: system scope, responsibility allocation, and instrument type. It then tests the approach by systematically examining similarities and differences, including a uniform coding process and cluster analysis. My results indicate that EPR for plastic packaging is becoming increasingly fine‐grained and diverse. I show that ‘‘path‐dependencies’’ emerge between certain features at the responsibility allocation level. I also find common implementation patterns across countries revolving around, for example, EPR market structure or producer responsibility type. System scope converges across countries, while instrument types are becoming increasingly multi‐faceted. I find that policy transfer mechanisms, such as first‐mover dynamics and geographic proximity, have likely influenced existing landscapes of EPR design across the EU. These insights provide an intriguing first step toward deeper analysis of EPR design and, if further extended, can be operationalized for future ex ante or ex post policy analysis of EPR system setups.</jats:p>


Funder: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich; doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100003006

Funder: ETH Zurich Institute of Science, Technology and Policy Research Incubator Grant “Swisschains: Swiss Sustainable Supply Chains”

4407 Policy and Administration, 44 Human Society
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Journal of Industrial Ecology
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