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Waste Management

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Business for the Environment

The world today is facing a great challenge. In the conditions of the growing global population and income, the demand for different products increases, but after a while the products become a waste. The growing demand for production requires more natural resources which are limited on the earth. Therefore waste recycling and re-use in the production process are of utmost importance.

Proper and efficient waste management is a challenge for the whole world and Georgia is no exception. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a concept dating back to the 1990’s that is considered to be one of the most important waste management mechanisms. This concept implies involvement of product manufacturers in the management of waste from their products and distribution of responsibilities in this regard. Introduction of this system requires concerted action by the state, manufacturers, other economic operators and the population, otherwise the system would not function effectively.

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Seeking to introduce modern waste management models, Georgia actively cooperates with various international and donor organizations. At the initiative of the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia and with the assistance of the European Union, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of Sweden, a necessary legal framework for the introduction of the EPR system has been developed. In particular, the Government of Georgia has recently adopted several technical regulations for the management of four different types of waste in the EPR system, including:  waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), used oils, tires, and batteries and accumulators. The regulations came into force on September 1, 2020. It is also planned to regulate the management of two more categories of waste within the EPR in the near future – these are wasted packaging materials and decommissioned vehicles.

With the support from the EU, UNDP and the Government of Sweden, different analytical or practical supporting documents have been drafted and a number of capacity building and awareness-raising campaigns launched to implement the legislation and the EPR system.

“In this regard we have been working together to promote the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility which has been very successful in the European Union and that we have helped Georgia to implement also here in order to limit the amount of waste and to make producers, importers of products more responsible of the waste that will remain after their products have been used. We also support the recycling of waste”- Team Leader on Connectivity, Energy, Environment & Climate Change at the EU Delegation to Georgia.

“This is the most important and critical reform that will take the country’s waste management system to a completely new level. The support of the European Union, the United Nations Development Program and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency is crucial for the implementation of the EPR reform, as the reform is the process of introduction of Europe’s best waste management practices in Georgia,” said Nino Tandilashvili, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.

EPR supports separate collection and recycling of waste, which has a direct impact on the environment, minimizing the amount of waste in landfills and saving resources, reducing the likelihood of

“One of the problems we face in the contemporary world is that we live in a consumer society where we use up so much resources and then we generate garbage, garbage, garbage everywhere. So that’s why we need to develop modern ways of waste management an Extended Producer Responsibility is really the core of that approach, where we put the burden on the manufacturer on the producer to take care of the product beyond the use by the consumer into the phase where things need to be reused and recycled, repurposed, composted if they’re organic matter.

Georgia has taken steps forward in line with its Association Agreement with the European Union to adopt Extended Producer Responsibility. But what we need to see now is a real revolution in the way people think about how they buy and consume and throw away their garbage, and also about how the private sector deals with what it produces,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton.

EPR serves the ultimate aim of protecting humans and the environment. The concept first appeared in Sweden in 1990 and has been successfully implemented in Europe and beyond ever since.

 “Reduce, reuse and recycle waste,” said Erik Illes, Head of Development Cooperation and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Sweden to Georgia. “We are proud to support Georgia in promoting sustainable environmental policies, shifting for greener approaches in the economy and daily life.”