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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Manufacturing > Product Development > Manufacturing Design & Engineering for Sustainable Business

How Manufacturer Takeback Programs Meet Global Waste Recycling Laws

Sony's takeback program for electronics managed the system to save money

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Managing and Optimizing Takeback Programs

Sony Europe saved over 400,000 euros by carefully managing and optimizing the takeback programs it participated in, according to a study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

The study, by Kieren Mayers of the University of Surrey, examined how WEEE legislation and extended producer responsiblity (EPR) laws, which have been implemented in a variety of ways across Europe, have affected Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's (SCEE) recycling efforts both positively and negatively.

Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs)

Companies work with producer responsibility organizations (PROs) to meet each country's individual laws. There are more than 250 different PROs in Europe, Mayers estimates, and the markets these companies work in are generally either single-source, government-controlled companies, organizations competing by sector, or organizations that compete across all sectors.

Each of these companies offer different services at different cost, and one of the ways in which Sony was able to maximize the benefit of complying with takeback legislation was by systematically comparing services and making PROs compete for their business.

European Recycling Platform

Sony worked with other electronics companies in the European Recycling Platform to push for a shift from sector-based or single-source PRO systems to a cross-sector competition.

Another, more complicated goal of WEEE and EPR legislation is to drive the development of environmentally benign design in all products, but especially electronics products and provide producers with economic incentives to design products with reduced environmental impacts at end of life.

Designing for the Enviroment

Four main obstacles to design for environment remain:
  • Appropriate infrastructure and processes still need to be developed;
  • Targets and treatment requirements have not been specified in detail;
  • Member countries have not fully implemented or enforced future waste requirements: so far, only seven of 27 member states appear to have enacted both the WEEE Directive requirements for future waste and financial guarantees into national law.
  • And at present, collective financing models do not provide design incentives that deliver any benefits from lower end-of-life costs.

The full case study, "Strategic, Financial, and Design Implications of Extended Producer Responsibility in Europe," is available at

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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