Joachim Quoden talks to ISWA about the Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance (EXPRA), and what being an ISWA Platinum member means for EXPRA’s involvement in the waste management industry.
1. Firstly, tell us a little bit about the Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance (EXPRA). What do you do, and how do you do it?
EXPRA is not only a classical association where we are grouping the interests of our members towards other stakeholders like global, international and European authorities (OECD, UNEP, European Commission, European Parliament etc) and other associations from all stakeholders but also offering a platform and a structure where my currently 27 members from 25 countries from all over the world, all owned by the obliged industry and working on a non-profit basis, can work together, exchange best practices, work on joint projects in working groups, Task Forces and networks. So, somehow a little ISWA concentrated on EPR and packaging waste management.
2. For those who might not know, can you briefly explain EPR?
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an efficient economic and environmental resource management tool whereby producers take over the responsibility for the end-of-life management of their used products/packaging. This includes the financial and often the operational responsibility for collection, sorting and treating of these products as well as to take the end-of-life treatment into account when designing the product/packaging.
3. What is the role/position of EPR in the broader context of sustainable waste management and the shift to a circular economy?
The role of EPR respective of the Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) which are founded by the obliged companies to fulfil the obligations on their behalf is to make products/ packaging circular so that as much material as possible is staying in the economic loop and is not ending up after the first use in the environment, in landfills or in incineration. So, helping industry in designing products/packaging in a way that they can be easily repaired, reused and/or recycled by those putting them on the market is key for a circular economy and of course to ensure the necessary (formerly called waste management) infrastructure to do the end-of-life operations are the key jobs of every EPR system.
4. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the waste and resource industry today?
To have in all countries all over the world the necessary legal framework so that the necessary infrastructure for keeping all materials in the loop is key for the shift to a circular economy. As soon as we have this legal security and stability, companies can take the necessary steps and investments. We have the necessary know how and the technologies, we “just” have to roll them out everywhere.
5. Where do you see the major market opportunities for the waste and resource industry?
In every country around the world, you can find big opportunities for this sector, in the most developed countries to deliver more finetuned (including digital) solutions for separate collection and sorting, for more and more waste streams, textiles approaching in Europe minimum, increased capacities for recyclates, in other countries to move from single stream collection to separate collection of many streams with the respective investments in new collection and sorting equipment and in the developing world to establish a collection infrastructure for all waste streams, with the integration of the informal sector that did most of the job up to now.
6. How can ISWA Members get involved in the activities of EXPRA and learn more about packaging waste recovery and recycling systems?
I think that the ISWA Working Group Governance & Legal Issues offers a great platform to learn more about EPR and other related issues as we have many experts especially from PROs in this group.
7. You’re also responsible for an ISWA Working Group: Governance and Legal Issues. What’s the goal/mission of this group and how can people get involved?
This group is about the structure and the organization and financing of a sustainable municipal waste management system. About the necessary legislation from the national to the local level, from understanding the various ways to finance municipal waste management by taxes, fees, PAYT and EPR. So, ISWA members are coming together to report about their experience in these matters, to learn from others and to use this knowledge at home to develop their approaches further.
8. What were your main motivations for joining ISWA as a Platinum Member?
ISWA is the global, overarching platform for municipal waste management so that it was logical for us to join and to participate. It gives us many opportunities to interact with many important stakeholders of each EPR system like municipalities and waste management companies to discuss our challenges and to cooperate on solutions. As a platinum member you have the possibility to work in all working groups and you get the visibility that you are an important part of this relevant association.
For more information, visit https://www.expra.eu/