Product stewardship means ensuring that all those involved in the life cycle of a product share responsibility for reducing its health and environmental impacts, with producers bearing primary financial responsibility. Product stewardship can be voluntary or required by law.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR), is a mandatory type of product stewardship in which a producer’s responsibility for their product extends to the post-consumer management of that product and its packaging. Read more about the Principles of Product Stewardship.
Voluntary vs. Mandatory Programs
Many states and countries have passed laws that require extended producer responsibility for certain products. This ensures a level playing field, and can be necessary for products that do not have a strong market for their recycled materials.
Examples of mandatory producer responsibility:
- Oregon’s Paint Stewardship Program
- Maine’s Mercury Thermostat Program
- Quebec’s Packaging Program
- Map of EPR Laws in the U.S.
Some manufacturers, retailers and others take a voluntary approach to product stewardship by offering take-back and recycling programs even when not required by law. This is good corporate citizenship and lets customers know a company is doing the right thing for the environment.
Examples of voluntary product stewardship:
- Call2Recycle Battery Recycling Program
- End of Life Vehicle Solutions
- Staples Recycling Program
- Bridgestone Spent Tire Program
Product Stewardship Resources
- The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard
- The Story of Electronics by Annie Leonard
- Product Stewardship: A Better Way (Northwest PSC)
- The Secret Life of Cell Phones (Inform, Inc.)
- The Secret Life of Paper (Inform, Inc.)
- Introduction to Product Stewardship (California PSC)
- Introduction to Zero Waste (Eco-Cycle)