“The DRS system would require more effort on the part of citizen,” says Silvia Ayuso

The social analysis of the ARIADNA study compares the social impacts of the current system (EPR) against the hypothetical introduction of a combined DRS+EPR system.

Silvia Ayuso, Academic Director of the MANGO Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility at ESCI-UPF, is responsible for the coordination of the social analysis.

Silvia Ayuso, Academic Director of the MANGO Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility at ESCI-UPF.

Silvia Ayuso, Academic Director of the MANGO Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility at ESCI-UPF.

The ARIADNA study, devoted to analyse the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of the implementation of a mandatory Deposit and Return System (DRS – in Spanish SDDR) in Spain and Catalonia, is the most comprehensive study on DRS carried out to date in Europe and is also the first one to include a systematic social analysis. “Other studies have addressed the social perspective in a non-systematic way, and ARIADNA's objective was to make a comprehensive analysis of this area,” highlights Silvia Ayuso, Academic Director of the Mango Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility ESCI-UPF and responsible for the coordination of the social analysis of the study. Researchers from the International Life Cycle Academy (ILCA), Bo Weidema and Iván Muñoz, and José Luis Retolaza, researcher at the Global Center for Sustainable Business of the University of Deusto, have participated in the social study.

In the absence of a standard methodological framework for social analysis, “the social impact evaluation of the current Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system and the DRS has been performed, for the first time, by following two complementary methods of recent appearance and currently in development, which implies a methodological innovation,” explains Ayuso. First, the researchers have used an adaptation of the methodology for quantifying integrated social value, developed by José Luis Retolaza, which focuses on what people of the territory consider important. Secondly, the social footprint method by Bo Weidema, head of the ICLA, has been used to assess macro-scale social impacts.

The results obtained from both methodologies coincide with those from the economic and environmental analysis of ARIADNA: the benefits for society of a combined DRS+EPR system are reduced by the cost of other activities derived from it, especially those related to packaging collection and transport.


Two complementary methods

The methodology for quantifying integrated social value focuses on the benefits and drawbacks for stakeholders in Catalonia and Spain, that can affect or that are affected by the packaging collection systems studied. “It is an interesting and complex study with different stakeholders affected, because we are analysing daily products,” explains the coordinator. "Based on conducting interviews with representatives from all of these stakeholders: business sectors linked to the beverage packaging value chain, public administration and consumer associations, we have identified the advantages and disadvantages of implementing DRS, that the affected groups and/or individuals perceive as relevant,” says Ayuso.

Furthermore, “the social footprint has allowed us to conduct a socio-economic diagnosis by using a life-cycle approach. The EXIOBASE (database developed in European research projects) multi-regional input- output model, the most important tool of this method, has allowed us to calculate the inter-relationship among economic and material consumptions, and their implications in economic sectors and product flows across all countries covered,” highlights Ayuso.


Higher social costs

From the point of view of the social benefits and drawbacks, “according to expected results: The DRS system would require more effort on the part of citizen, being a complementary system to the current one that would imply more resources and complexity to manage packaging waste,” says Ayuso. From the point of view of the social footprint, “both systems have a net benefit for society with a recycling promotion, but it is higher for EPR system. The introduction of a DRS alongside EPR would worsen the social footprint of managing packaging waste in Spain, reducing its beneficial impact by 50% compared to the current situation,” she adds.

“It is now our interest to communicate the results of the study to decision makers, as well as all the stakeholders involved, with the overall objective to promote the access to the results of the affected groups and/or individuals to make them aware of the positive and negative aspects of implementing DRS. This is a much discussed subject of considerable controversy, often debated with interested visions,” concludes Ayuso. For this reason, the researchers have submitted the full report of the project for public comment. For any doubt or comment, there is a web form available and managed by the research team responsible for the study.



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