Extended Producer Responsibility in Norway and Europe: A Shared Responsibility that cannot be neglected

At the dawn of the 21st century, we have seen a seismic shift in the priorities of both businesses and governments globally. This shift, prompted by the increasing urgency to mitigate environmental harm and shift towards sustainable practices, has led to a principle known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This environmental policy approach, championed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), encourages producers to bear responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products throughout the product lifecycle, from design to the post-consumer phase. Recently, we have seen a surge in hiring for Sustainability Directors across numerous organizations. These roles are critical in steering companies towards more sustainable practices, reducing their environmental footprints, and aligning their strategies with the tenets of EPR. However, it is important to examine the efficacy and preparedness of the recruitment process for these vital roles. From personal observation and industry interaction, there is a disconcerting lack of knowledge amongst some headhunters and recruitment agencies working to fill these positions. Many of these recruiters must know how to evaluate candidates for these roles adequately. Sustainability is not just a buzzword or a trend; it is an all-encompassing approach that involves understanding complex environmental challenges, regulatory landscapes, and potential business impact. It demands a comprehensive understanding of legislation, industry standards, global best practices, and environmental science. Consequently, hiring for such roles should be treated as something other than a standard recruitment process. There is a pressing need for recruiters to enhance their understanding of sustainability and its broader implications, so they can select individuals with the right skill set and mindset to drive organizational change. The potential repercussions of this knowledge gap are not to be underestimated, as it may lead to organizations missing out on truly qualified leaders who can navigate the increasingly complex landscape of sustainable business. In the ensuing article, we will delve deeper into the concept of EPR, exploring its global implications and adoption. We will also discuss the roles and responsibilities of producers and their ever-evolving commitment to this principle. Furthermore, we will touch on the recruitment challenges and potential ways to bridge the knowledge gap currently in recruiting sustainability professionals. #sustainability #recruitment #recruiting #extendedproducerresponsibility #esgreporting #esgstrategy #esg2030 #oecd #wastemanagement #wastereduction #wastedirective


In recent decades, the global community has become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of waste generated by consumer products. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has been instrumental in promoting the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) concept, which holds producers accountable for the environmental impacts of their products throughout their life cycle. This concept is particularly relevant for Norwegian and European companies as they seek to align themselves with evolving international standards and consumer expectations.

Extended Producer Responsibility: An Overview

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach whereby producers are given significant responsibility for treating or disposing of post-consumer products. The central tenet of EPR is to shift the responsibility for waste management from municipalities and consumers to the producers themselves. This incentivizes companies to design products that are more environmentally friendly, recyclable, or easier to dispose of in an environmentally sound way.

EPR in Norway and Europe: A Necessity

Norwegian and European companies must recognize that EPR is not an option but a necessity. Companies must play their part in alleviating these issues in a world grappling with environmental challenges such as climate change, pollution, and resource depletion. EPR also allows companies to innovate, improve brand image, and align with consumer demands for sustainable products.

Regulatory Landscape

European Union has been at the forefront of EPR policy-making. As a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and part of the European Economic Area (EEA), Norway has harmonized its legislation with EU directives. The European Union has various directives that involve EPR, such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, and End-of-Life Vehicles Directive. These directives enforce specific requirements on member states to implement EPR programs for different product categories.

The Norwegian Experience

Norway has been a strong proponent of EPR and has implemented several programs focusing on packaging, electronic waste, and batteries. For instance, the country has established recycling schemes that require producers and importers to ensure that packaging is designed to minimise waste and promote recycling. Furthermore, Norway has demonstrated international leadership through its plastic bottle deposit scheme, which is considered one of the most efficient recycling systems in the world.

The Role of Producers in Norway and Europe

Producers must recognize the integral role they play in resource management and sustainability. Norwegian and European companies should:

  1. Innovate: Invest in research and development to create sustainable products.
  2. Educate: Inform consumers about the importance of responsible consumption and recycling.
  3. Collaborate: Partner with governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders to improve waste management.
  4. Be Accountable: Ensure compliance with local and international regulations regarding EPR.

Challenges and Opportunities

While EPR is essential, there are challenges, such as establishing cost-effective recycling systems, combating illegal waste shipments, and dealing with free riders who do not contribute to the system. However, with challenges come opportunities. EPR can drive innovation, create new markets for recycled materials, and enhance brand reputation.


Extended Producer Responsibility is a vital component of contemporary environmental policy. Norwegian and European companies, producers and importers cannot shirk this responsibility, a moral and legal obligation. Through innovation, collaboration, education, and accountability, producers can turn EPR into an opportunity for sustainable growth and contribute to a greener and more sustainable future.

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