8.4.4 A note on instruments
A note on instruments would be helpful here, even though the particular instruments of product-oriented environmental policy have not been the focus of this book, having been discussed at length elsewhere (see Oosterhuis et al. 1996). From the analysis presented above, it is clear that the IPP should principally invoke instruments that deal with information and education, as well as those that concern economic incentives and disincentives. Furthermore, the IPP’s objective of working with the market fully conforms to the general tendency in ecological economics and industrial ecology to favour economic instruments over their administrative counterparts. The main advantage of such an indirect way of influencing relevant stakeholders is that it is more flexible and leaves more space for their individual ingenuity (this is particularly important in the case of instruments directed at producers). Meanwhile, voluntary agreements should be implemented to a lesser extent, especially in the case of policies which attempt to introduce radical changes regarding economy-environment interactions.
Direct administrative instruments should be applied to complement the other two groups (informative and economic). For example, by promoting relevant product standards and by employing other product-oriented environmental policy tools, the IPP should contribute to a significant increase in the practice of eco-design. If it is successful, in some years in corporate environmental reports, statements such as ‘eco-design pays’ should appear, as has been the case with ‘pollution prevention pays’. Eventually, both producers and consumers should be held responsible for environmental damage associated with products. Thus, only a mix of instruments can be considered in the case of such a broad policy as the IPP. Nevertheless, a holistic and integrated perspective has to be adopted, to ensure that these instruments do not conflict with each other and, instead, that they are mutually supportive.