Resource productivity and waste

Economic instruments for sustainable materials management


Environmental policies in many OECD countries make use of economic instruments such as environmental taxes, emissions trading and incentive subsidies. Economic instruments can make a substantial contribution to more efficient and sustainable materials management. Many countries have introduced landfill taxes, and in some cases incineration taxes, to reflect the environmental costs of these forms of disposal. Many communities charge for household waste collection and disposal on a basis which provides an incentive to households to reduce the amount of garbage they put out. Taxes on certain products – batteries and packaging for example – are used to reflect the costs of end-of-life disposal, and in some cases deposit-refund systems are used to underpin waste separation and separate collection.

OECD work in this area focuses on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a concept that since the late 1980s has become an established principle of environmental policy in an increasing range of countries. It aims to make producers responsible for the environmental impacts of their products throughout the product chain, from design to the post-consumer phase. It was hoped that this would relieve the burden on municipalities and taxpayers for managing end-of-life products, reduce the amount of waste destined for final disposal, and increase rates of recycling.

The work aims to update a Guidance Manual to support the development of EPR systems that was developed by the OECD in 2001, and focuses on four thematic areas:

  • EPR governance,
  • competition and EPR,
  • design-for-environment incentives from EPR,
  • issues in emerging markets and the role of the informal sector.

Another focus is on making the updated guidance relevant for emerging markets, including through the development of case studies and in-country policy dialogues.

Guidance documents








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