Case study: Extended Producer Responsibility in Mexico: A Human Rights Perspective

By Adalberto Méndez. June, 2023

About this Brief

This brief is one of a series of case studies examining Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Systems in various locations around the globe. Produced by the International Alliance of Waste Pickers (IAWP) and WIEGO, the series looks at how the growing adoption of EPR policies and systems worldwide can either threaten or improve living standards and conditions for workers in informal employment who collect, sort, transport, and recycle waste. Waste pickers have historically been vital players in recycling and reuse.

EPR systems come in many shapes and forms and can occasionally cover a wide range of materials. Their primary purpose is to hold producers in the value chain responsible for the environmental and economic cost of the packaging and products they put into the market. Additionally, EPR can contribute to recognizing informal workers’ roles and the need to include them. Some systems are mandatory policies, while others are voluntary initiatives led by companies or consortiums.

Waste is not just an environmental issue but a high-value commodity. EPR systems can be controversial for waste pickers because they shift power and economic profit to producers or other waste sector players, often introducing new actors who compete for materials. However, in places where waste pickers are organized, EPR can be a positive disruption that has the potential to finance new or existing waste picker activities. Thus, EPR can present risks and opportunities for informal waste pickers and their organizations.

Without a clear understanding of EPR and its impacts in different contexts, it can be difficult for waste pickers and their organizations to know what to demand when an EPR system is being proposed or introduced in policy discussions or how an existing system should be changed without infringing their rights. Equally important is the pressing need to incorporate the IAWP’s Principles—which are examined throughout this brief.

The case study series aims to close that knowledge gap by sharing on-the-ground, lived experiences of local waste pickers in informal employment and their organizations in places where some form of EPR exists or is about to be implemented. Each study concludes with recommendations for improving EPR systems to accommodate waste picker integration better.


This brief was prepared by Adalberto Méndez, Executive Secretary of the Ibero-American Center for the Promotion of International Law and Human Rights (CIFODIDH, for Centro Iberoamericano para el Fomento del Derecho Internacional y los Derechos Humanos), and revised by Tania Espinosa, WIEGO Representative in Latin America. WIEGO Focal Cities’ Yuleina Carmona was responsible for copy-editing. The Observatory for Inclusive Recycling (ORIS), Brazil’s National Movement of Waste Pickers (MNCR), the International Alliance of Waste Pickers (IAWP), and WIEGO’s Working Group contributed with invaluable comments. The complete list of representatives to the IAWP’s Working Group on EPR can be found at:

We want to thank everyone who participated in the preparation of this brief through various interviews, in particular Danone, Sustentabilidad en Energía y Medio Ambiente, SA de CV (SUEMA), PetStar, SA de CV, TetraPack, Grupo Ecovalcor, SAS (Ecolana), and Solidaridad Internacional Kanda, AC (SIKANDA).

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