2 The Integrated Product Policy (IPP)

Integrated Product Policy

2.1 Introduction

In this chapter, I present the Integrated Product Policy (IPP) as it is being developed by the European Union (EU). The IPP is the teml adopted by the Euro­pean Commission for what used to be called product-oriented environmental policy (POEP) or environmental product policy (EPP). Jackson (1999) suggested that coining another name for the same policy, and then trying to investigate the differences between various interrelated concepts, constituted a bad habit which should be avoided. Nevertheless, the question may arise: ‘To what extent does the IPP (and all of the policy discussions on this subject) really introduce something new to the previously discussed concepts of POEP and EPP, apart from introduc­ing a new keyword to the already long line of acronyms used in various publica­tions on this subject?’. I argue that, although the name IPP has already been abused to mean the same as POEP and EPP used to mean, it should remain the specific name of the EU initiative. For this reason, throughout this volume, I use this acronym preceded by the definite article ‘the’. For the sake of clarity, I treat the IPP as a particular example of a POEP (or an EPP) and thus, assume that it is correct to say that the IPP is a POEP ( or an EPP) but not the converse.

Furthermore, I argue that the IPP indeed differs from previous policy-making initiatives, which can best be described with reference to its vision and approach. Also, the novelty of the IPP results from its potentially more signific­ant impact on sustainable production and consumption, compared to similar pol­icies adopted by various countries. Its scope (EU and European Economic Area countries) and ambitious objectives (‘to support sustainable development by reducing the negative environmental impacts of products throughout their life­cycle’ (European Commission 2003d: 1)) can have a large impact on how prod­ucts are manufactured, consumed and disposed of on a worldwide basis. Also, it could reduce environmental impacts related to those products by adjusting their prices, to include external costs that are currently neglected. These will be dealt with more specifically in the following chapters, where a more normative analy­sis will be performed with regards to what the IPP should actually include in order to conform with the theoretical background of ecological economics and industrial ecology.

In this chapter, the analysis still has a positive tone (as opposed to the more normative approach of the following chapters). In the next section, I present an overview of the origins of product-oriented environmental policies in general and then briefly review some product-oriented environmental policy initiatives of the EU (section 2.3). Together, these sections constitute a background for the description of the IPP in section 2.4. Similar policies developed outside the EU are discussed in section 2.5. Section 2.6 summarizes some critical comments made about the IPP, while section 2.7 reviews previous attempts to devise a theoretical background for the IPP. Section 2.8 concludes this chapter.