Over decades, waste management has been under government's responsibility but showed limited effects as the resolution of environmental problems relies on the engagement of various parties. As per OECD1, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) brings an ecological policy approach，which extends the producer’s responsibility for products to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. EPR shifts the responsibility upstream toward the producer, pushing enterprises to take environmental considerations into account during product design.
Therefore, understanding the EPR policy in the target markets became an essential compliance issue for enterprises, especially for those whose business layout cover a variety of countries.
ChemLinked compiles the main EPR requirements in South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, to help enterprises better understand the EPR compliance status in Asia.
In South Korea, the EPR scheme assigns a certain recycling mount to product manufacturers, importers, and sellers who use packaging materials for their products. It requires enterprises to recycle the waste generated from their products and packaging materials. For any failure in compliance, they will face high recycling fees that exceed the cost of recycling. These manufacturers, importers, and sellers of packaging materials and products are referred to as "producers obligated to recycle packaging (포장재의 재활용의무생산자)”.
The Ministry of Environment (MOE)2 has specified items subject to EPR, including paper packs, glass bottles, iron/aluminium cans, synthetic resin, film/sheet packaging materials, and foamed synthetic resin buffer materials, etc. MOE establishes a long-term recycling target every five years, and set the annual recycling obligation rate to accelerate the collection and recycling of products and packaging materials. The recycling rate of each packaging material in 2023 is set in the Annual Recycling Rates of Products and Packaging Materials for 20233.
The obligated recycling amount is calculated by multiplying the quantity of products/packaging materials manufactured or imported in the current year (obligation fulfilment year) by the recycling obligation rate. The computational formula is as follows:
Obligated recycling amount = (quantity of products/packaging materials) x (recycling obligation rate)
“Producers obligated to recycle packaging” should pay a sharing fee（분담금） to the Recycling Business Mutual Aid Cooperatives (재활용사업공제조합) for collectively fulfilling the recycling obligations. Recycling Business Mutual Aid Cooperatives will delegate waste disposal institutes to collect and recycle the packaging materials following the recycling methods and standards stipulated in the Attached Table 6 of Enforcement Rule of Resources Recycling Act4.
Additionally, the producer obligated to recycle packaging and Recycling Business Mutual Aid Cooperatives must jointly submit a plan for fulfilling the packaging collection and recycling obligation to the Korea Environment Corporation (KECO) every January. After confirmed by KECO, the relevant party can begin to collect and recycle the packaging materials following the plan.
Japan is the first to introduce the EPR policy in Asia, by enacting the Act on the Promotion of Sorted Collection and Recycling of Containers and Packaging (Packaging Recycling Act)5 in 1995.
According to the act, the enterprises that use glass bottles, PET bottles, other plastic packaging, and other paper packaging in their businesses, as well as those who manufacture or import those packaging materials, are obligated to recycle the relevant packaging materials. These enterprises are referred to as “designated producers”, who should recycle a specified amount of properly-sorted waste packaging materials.
In order to fulfil the recycling obligation, the designated producers can either collect and recycle waste packaging by themselves, or outsource the recycling to a producer responsibility organization (PRO), the Japan Containers and Packaging Recycling Association6.
Vietnam is the first country to enact the EPR policy in Southeast Asia (SEA). On January 10, 2022, Vietnam’s EPR requirements became effective as introduced in the Decree No. 08/2022/ND-CP Detailing a Number of Articles of the Law on Environmental Protection.7
The producers, importers, brand owners, and plastic waste processors are obliged to waste treatment and recycling. They should either organize the recycling of products and packages, or make a financial contribution to the Vietnam Environment Protection Fund (VEPF) to support the recycling of products and packages. Vietnam specifies six product groups under the EPR scheme, including packages, batteries and accumulators, electric and electronic devices, tires, lubricants, and transportation vehicles.
Vietnam is committed to optimizing its EPR policy. After several changes, Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE)8 released a consultation amendmentof Decree No. 08/2022/ND-CP Detailing a Number of Articles of the Law on Environmental Protection9 on October 20, 2023, to streamline the administrative procedures and delegate power.10
The Draft gives the definition of “manufacturer” and “importer”, as these two parties are responsible to recycle the products and packaging. When it comes to the package for certain products, the Draft excludes gum from food products; and pesticides from “Detergents and preparations for domestic, agricultural and medical use” as these products/packaging subject to their own requirements for recycling/waste treatment responsibilities. Besides, the waste treatment exemption is revised. The Draft raises the same exemption threshold for packaging manufacturer and importer as applied for recycling responsibilities.
It’s only recently that EPR policy has been introduced to the Philippines. On August 12, 2022, the Philippines’ Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced the enactment of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022, or Republic Act 1189811. This act places the responsibility for the entire life cycle of plastic waste on the producers through the development and implementation of EPR programs, which focuses on waste reduction, recovery, and diversion.