April 23, 2024

Tackling Plastic Pollution: Global Action Partnership for EPR Launches First Pilot of its EPR Helpdesk



Taking on the design and implementation of extended producer responsibility, or EPR, systems is an arduous task. A particular challenge lies within tailoring all its various elements to the contexts of its region and market – A challenge that the Global Action Partnership for EPR aims to tackle with its first EPR Helpdesk pilot in Malaysia and Argentina. 

The EPR Helpdesk offers customized technical assistance upon request for the design and implementation of EPR to governments and producer responsibility organizations (PROs), as well as other relevant stakeholders such as informal sector organisations. And not only through the pilots: With its diverse pool of EPR experts, the Helpdesk supports short-term requests as well. Together with WWF and the PREVENT Waste Alliance, UNEP has taken a leading role in its formulation and execution. To receive support, simply fill out the form on the GAP for EPR website. 


EPR Helpdesk Pilot Takes Flight 

The groundbreaking pilot for the EPR Helpdesk is scheduled to run from January to July 2024. In collaboration with UNEP’s One Plastics Initiative and sponsored by the Norwegian Retailers’ Environment Fund, the pilot will test and standardize the working modality of the EPR Helpdesk. It aims to establish a mechanism to address specific challenges encountered by governments and PROs in their EPR journey. 

Feng Wang, coordinator of UNEP’s One Plastics Initiative, expresses enthusiasm about the commencement of the EPR Helpdesk pilot. “UNEP is pleased to see the kickstart of the helpdesk pilot which we have been working together with GAP for EPR,” said Feng, “This will help us to learn the actual needs, challenges and opportunities that both policy makers and the private sector face in their specific contexts. We will work with our expert community to provide tailored technical support to facilitate the implementation of EPR in different countries and markets”.   

Countries invited to take part in the pilot submitted support requests, which were collectively reviewed and selected by the GAP for EPR core group. The selection process was guided by criteria assessing local needs and long-term impacts. Two voluntary PROs, namely the Malaysian Recycling Alliance Berhad (MAREA) from Malaysia and Compromiso Empresarial Para el Reciclaje (CEMPRE) from Argentina, have been selected to receive support. Their participation in the pilot has also been endorsed by their respective governments.  


Supporting EPR Development in Malaysia and Argentina 

“The EPR Helpdesk serves as a highly valuable resource for organizations like ours, providing tailored technical guidance. Through our partnership with the GAP for EPR, MAREA foresees the proactive resolution of challenges encountered during the transition from voluntary to mandatory EPR in the upcoming years.” 

Roberto Benetello, CEO of MAREA.


In Malaysia, efforts to develop an EPR framework are ongoing, with EPR identified as a priority under the 12th Malaysia Plan. MAREA, a non-profit voluntary PRO, is aspiring to become the national PRO for post-consumer packaging, and the pilot will support them in key areas such as collection methods, PRO operation planning, membership expansion, and addressing challenges with the informal sector. 

In Argentina, the enactment of a Packaging Waste Law under the EPR concept is expected soon. CEMPRE, a non-profit organization, is planning to become a voluntary PRO in alliance with other organisations, and the pilot will assist them in establishing and developing the EPR system.  

Sergio Bon, from CEMPRE, expressed his appreciation for the EPR Helpdesk’s support in the PRO establishment in Argentina and noted “We look forward to learning from the GAP for EPR and international experts. The support from the pilot will be very helpful at the early stage of Argentina’s EPR planning. CEMPRE is also eager to share key findings and learnings from this pilot with stakeholders in Argentina, contributing to collective knowledge on this topic.” 


Expert Consultancy and High-Quality Support 

The pilot involves reaching out to EPR experts nominated by GAP for EPR core group through a call for proposals. These experts will provide consultancy services to MAREA and CEMPRE, addressing specific challenges in their contexts. Throughout the pilot, UNEP and GAP for EPR will monitor the performance of the consultancy to ensure high-quality support. The active GAP for EPR community can be involved for further exchanges and peer-to-peer learning. 


Advancing EPR jointly with the Global Action Partnership for EPR 

The Global Action Partnership for Extended Producer Responsibility, known as the “GAP for EPR, is an international partnership between GIZ, WWF and OECD. Through circular economy support from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and close cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the partnership aims to foster a common understanding of Extended Producer Responsibility, offer technical and practical support to countries in developing EPR, and build a community of practice for sharing experiences and fostering innovation.


The EPR Helpdesk pilot represents a significant step forward in the global fight against plastic pollution, bringing together expertise, practical support, and a collaborative community to shape the future of EPR. 


Stay tuned for updates on this transformative journey!