WEEE (waste from electrical and electronic equipment, known also as e-waste) is the fastest growing category of waste with 50 million tons generated worldwide each year and it increases at a rate of 3-5% per year (Onyenekenwa et al., 2011). In Europe e-waste issue has been tacked with a specific directive named WEEE Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC). This directive includes a policy principle known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The novelty of this research is to relate New Institutional Economics framework to EPR and to analyse in detail the applications of EPR and the results. More specifically, we investigate how the European regulation on e-waste (that includes the EPR principle) changes the institutional settings according to different options available. One of these options regards the individual producer responsibility choice versus the collective producer responsibility alternative. This article also presents a case study on how the introduction of WEEE Directive in Italy has changed the financial, physical and informative responsibilities for producers and municipalities. One important result is that the target of collection of e-waste set at 4 kg per habitant per year by the Directive, was reached in 2010. We conclude that EPR changes the institutional settings and achieve the internalization of externalities. Moreover, we highlight that the results are related to the solutions adopted within the EPR principle. We also point out that the recast of the European Directive in 2012 redefined the collection targets of e-waste and Italy will face a big challenge in order to reach those new goals.
Keywords: PPP, Extended Producer Responsibility, EPR, e-waste, WEEE Directive, New Institutional Economics
Jel Code: Q53, Q55, D02