Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP)

Reader 1

William Ascher

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This thesis draws on the concept of product stewardship and its focus on incorporating all of the actors in a product’s lifecycle into steps to take responsibility for waste management. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) recognizes the producer’s distinct potential to consider and drive change in waste management. Producers often serve like mediators between the design and use phases of a product’s lifecycle. Through EPR policies, the producer takes on the costs of ensuring safe end-of-life waste disposal. In this way, EPR can be expected to help relieve the public of some of the costs of waste disposal, and to support consideration of social and environmental impacts that a product may incur.

This thesis examines EPR policy adoption and effectiveness in order to understand its ability to meet its theoretical expectations. Exploring the consideration and implementation of EPR policy measures, and particularly a case study of these policies in California, this thesis identifies several emerging challenges and trends that define openness to, and the success of, EPR. EPR policy proposals often encounter resistance that limits their strength and reach. In order to realize the full potential benefits of EPR, regulatory bodies will need to wholeheartedly support competition and enforcement to preserve the incentives within these policies. This thesis suggests that EPR still holds strong potential to bring together the social, environmental, and economic costs of waste management, both in theory and in practice, and offers broad recommendations for efforts to support this alignment.