The European Recycling Platform: Promoting Competition in E-Waste Recycling

By Hau Lee, Maria Shao
2009 | Case No. GS67

The European Recycling Platform was the only pan-European recycling organization created in response to the European Union’s groundbreaking directive to promote recycling of electronic waste. Braun, Electrolux, Hewlett-Packard and Sony established ERP in 2002 as an alternative to the monopolistic e-waste take-back systems then existing in several European countries. ERP was based on the principle of producer responsibility, in which manufacturers are financially responsible for managing the end-of-life phase of their goods.

By late 2007, ERP operated in eight countries. It had achieved significant market share and stimulated competition in European e-waste recycling. In November 2007, ERP’s board was meeting to evaluate whether the company should greatly expand its scope. Should ERP start handling new product categories such as discarded batteries and packaging? Should it expand to more countries? If so, which countries? If it expanded, could ERP handle the additional business complexity while preserving its low-cost, outsourced model?

The case looks at an organization at the forefront of efforts to address the world’s growing e-waste crisis. It highlights the importance of managing the end-of-life phase of products. Students will evaluate recycling as a business and market opportunity. They will assess the industry and market changes sparked by Europe’s e-waste directive.

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