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Products and the environment: an integrated approach to policy.

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 20:53 authored by Fras Berkhout, Derek Smith
The European Commission has recently begun a process for considering an integrated product policy (IPP), defined as public policy which explicitly aims to modify and improve the environmental performance of product systems. Three main factors have combined to create a need for more effective policies on products and the environment. First, many traditional process-oriented policies have been successful in reducing emissions from industrial production activities, while the environmental impacts of consumption are being increasingly recognized by governments and consumers alike. Second, a number of new analytical approaches (life cycle approaches) for understanding the environmental burdens of product systems have been developed and are being applied in policy decisions. Third, many existing product-oriented environmental polices are believed to have been ineffective. An EU IPP will build on policy initiatives already in train at the EU member state level, and on developments within firms to improve the environmental profile of goods and services. This paper reviews product-related policy in member states, together with an assessment of product environmental management in five industrial sectors: chemicals; pulp and paper; food; electronic goods and consumer goods. A framework for an IPP composed of five ‘building blocks’, clusters of policies with a common objective, is described. These building blocks include policies related to consumption waste management, green product innovation, market creation for green products, environmental information and the allocation of responsibility for product management. Some policy makers argue that we may be witnessing the beginning of a general transition away from process-oriented policies, and towards product- and consumption-oriented policies. The paper illustrates some basic problems faced by an IPP, and proposes an incremental, phased approach to policy development in the EU. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.


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  • Published


Environmental Policy and Governance


European Environment



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  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

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