Examples of Producer Responsibility

What does producer responsibility look like?

In producer responsibility systems, manufacturers provide and pay for recycling or disposal programs for the products they make. The recycling programs are often administered by an industry stewardship association, which contracts with service providers (collectors and recyclers) and collects funds from the individual producers to run the program. State government provides oversight and, along with local governments, assists with education. While producer responsibility programs can be voluntarily, legislation is often used to level the playing field by requiring that all producers participate and meet minimum standards. However, legislation is not typically prescriptive about exactly what the program looks like.

Producer Responsibility in Washington

E-Cycle Washington is a great example of a producer responsibility program that is up and running here in Washington. Electronics producers established the program and pay to responsibly recycle computers, monitors and TVs from residents, small businesses, and schools. There are over 200 drop-off locations throughout the state and more than 38 million pounds of electronics were collected in 2009! 

Starting in 2013, lighting producers will pay to recycle fluorescent bulbs and tubes from residents throughout Washington. The Washington State Legislature passed a landmark producer responsibility law in 2010 that creates this program. 

Two national recycling programs that are financed by producers are also available in Washington. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation’s Call2Recycle program recycles rechargeable batteries and cell phones.  The program is funded by more than 350 manufacturers and marketers of portable rechargeable batteries and products. The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) provides a program to collect and dispose of mercury-containing thermostats. Members of TRC fund the program through annual participation fees.

Producer Responsibility in other places

Producer responsibility is a policy tool that has been implemented in the European Union, Canada, and many other countries. Products may include electronics, paint, carpeting, unwanted medicines, fluorescent lights, tires, pesticides, batteries, thermostats, beverage containers, packaging and more.

In the United States, producer responsibility is growing rapidly. So far, 22 states have passed electronics legislation requiring producers to pay for recycling. Some states have passed producer responsibility laws for other products, such as fluorescent lights, thermostats, and paint.

Learn more about producer responsibility laws in other states that cover electronics and other products.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 11 August 2010 12:27)