B7.1 Producer Responsibility


Producer responsibility in the UK is a policy tool that is an extension of the “polluter pays” principle. It is aimed at ensuring that businesses who place products on the market take responsibility for those products once they have reached the end of their life.

The UK Government wants to see a more sustainable approach to resource use and a reduction in the quantity of waste going to landfill, by diverting end of life products to re-use, recycling or other forms of recovery.

DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) state that Producer Responsibility makes businesses that place products on the market partly or wholly responsible for the costs of dealing with the products when they become waste. Producer Responsibility schemes can give producers an incentive to design products in a way that:

  • Uses fewer resources.
  • Reduces or eliminates the use of hazardous substances or materials in the manufacture of the product.
  • Uses greater amounts of recyclate in the manufacture of the product.
  • Minimises waste from the product.
  • Can be reused.
  • Can be more easily treated/dismantled and recycled.


The European Union’s Fifth Environment Action Programme identified “priority waste streams” because of growing concern about their impact on the environment. Directives have been introduced on items including:

  • Packaging and Packaging Waste.
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
  • End of Life Vehicles (ELV).
  • Batteries and Accumulators.


These Directives clearly place responsibility on producers to bear the costs of collection, sorting or treatment and recycling or recovery.