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Difficulties in applying extended producer responsibility policies in developing countries: case studies in e-waste recycling in China and Thailand


Developing Asian countries have started to apply the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR) to electronics and electrical equipment waste (e-waste). This policy approach aims to give electronic appliance manufacturers and importers responsibility for the collection and recycling of discarded electronic equipment. China and Thailand have drafted regulations on the recycling of e-waste with common characteristics such as the financial responsibility of producers and subsidies for collection. Although the proposed system is sensible, taking into account the fact that e-waste is a market-traded commodity, there are two major difficulties in implementing EPR in developing countries. First, it may be difficult for governments to collect funds from producers or importers if smuggled, imitation, or small shop-assembled products have a large share in the market. Second, the system creates incentives for collectors and recyclers to over-report the amount of collected e-waste in order to gain extra subsidies from the fund. Other policy measures such as the enforcement of pollution control regulations on informal recyclers, the prevention of smuggling, and the protection of intellectual property rights should accompany EPR policies.

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Correspondence to Michikazu Kojima.

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Kojima, M., Yoshida, A. & Sasaki, S. Difficulties in applying extended producer responsibility policies in developing countries: case studies in e-waste recycling in China and Thailand. J Mater Cycles Waste Manag 11, 263–269 (2009).

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Key words

  • Extended producer responsibility
  • WEEE
  • Free rider