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Extended Producer Responsibility Successes

Sweden's high household plastic packaging rates can largely be attributed to strong EPR policies (see attached research paper)

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Sweden sends a remarkable 1% of its total waste to landfill. While some of this waste is incinerated for waste-to-energy production, the majority is recycled. While studying abroad in Sweden, I was fascinated with local recycling regimens and the population's commitment to recycling. In part, the very high household plastic package recycling rates can be attributed to Sweden's Extended Producer Responsibility policies (EPR). EPR policies make the producer (in this case, plastic packaging producers) pay for the costs of their products at the end of life. Plastic packaging producers in Sweden have teamed to establish networks that collaborate and fund entire plastic packaging recycling systems. With financial incentive, producers commit to establishing recycling infrastructure and educational campaigns that not only make it as easy as possible for citizens to recycle, but to also teach them how to do it properly. The findings from my research prompt questions about how to implement EPR policies in other countries, how to overcome the accountability challenges when producers create packaging in one country but sell their product in another country, and what incentives government has to implement such policies (particularly in emerging economies). These questions continue to challenge my thought and I am interested to hear others weigh in on this topic!

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

My EPR research makes me question how EPR can be implemented in an increasingly global distribution network: how do we hold producers accountable when their packaging may end up in other countries? Additionally, how dependent is the success of EPR policies on societal factors such as environmental issue awareness, recycling education, and connotations about being "green"?

Tell us about yourself

I conducted my initial research on plastic household recycling rates in Sweden while studying abroad at the Stockholm School of Economics. I majored in Economics and Environmental Studies and am passionate about the intersection of urban design, environmental sustainability, and human well-being.

Attachments (1)


Research paper on household plastic packaging rates in Sweden


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Hi Emma!
There are 3 days left in the ideas phase of the circular design challenge! It would be great to see your ideas there, submit your idea via -

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