Temple University Press
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach that holds manufacturers accountable for the full costs of their products at every stage in their life cycle. EPR typically involves requiring that producers take back their products at the end of their useful lives, or pay a recycling contractor to do so, thereby internalizing the costs of recycling or disposal in a manufacturer’s bottom line. When companies know that they will bear the costs of product return and recycling, they are more likely to redesign their products for easier and safer handling at each step in the life cycle. This approach “enforces a design strategy that takes into account the upstream environmental impacts inherent in the selection, mining and extraction of materials, the health and environmental impacts to workers and surrounding communities during the production process itself, and downstream impacts during use, recycling and disposal of the products” (EPR Working Group 2003, 2). In short, by requiring a company to take its products back, EPR aims to force the company to make the products cleaner in the first place. The idea of applying EPR policy to electronics arrived in the United States in the 1990s as a welcome import from Europe. This chapter traces EPR’s adoption by coalitions of U.S. environmental, labor, and health activists seeking a comprehensive policy solution to the health and safety threats posed by the high-technology industry’s internationalization.
Challenging the chip: Labor rights and environmental justice in the global electronics industry
David A. Sonnenfeld
David Naguib Pellow
Raphael, C., & Smith, T. (2006). Importing extended producer responsibility for electronic equipment into the United States. In T. Smith, D.N. Pellow, & D.A. Sonnenfeld (Eds.), Challenging the chip: Labor rights and environmental justice in the global electronics industry (pp. 247-259). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.