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Product Stewardship

Definition/Meaning

Product Stewardship is the act of minimizing health, safety, environmental and social impacts, and maximizing economic benefits of a product and its packaging throughout all lifecycle stages. The producer of the product has the greatest ability to minimize adverse impacts, but other stakeholders, such as suppliers, retailers, and consumers, also play a role. Stewardship can be either voluntary or required by law.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a mandatory type of product stewardship that includes, at a minimum, the requirement that the producer's responsibility for their product extends to post-consumer management of that product and its packaging. There are two related features of EPR policy: (1) shifting financial and management responsibility, with government oversight, upstream to the producer and away from the public sector; and (2) providing incentives to producers to incorporate environmental considerations into the design of their products and packaging.

Product stewardship can be a powerful driver for the reduction of waste volume and toxicity. By placing the responsibility for end‐of‐life management on the manufacturer, these programs ensure that end‐of‐life impacts of the product or package are considered during the earliest stages of design. Product stewardship programs create incentives for manufacturers to redesign products and packaging to be less toxic, less bulky and lighter, as well as more recyclable. Reducing material use and toxicity and increasing recycling results in significant environmental, economic, energy and GHG reduction benefits.

A set of Product Stewardship principles have been developed by the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI ), Product Policy Institute (PPI) and California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC).

NYS Product Stewardship Programs/Requirements

New York State has already adopted in law and regulations product stewardship requirements for a number of problem wastes. These include the following:

New York Product Stewardship Council (NYPSC )

The New York Product Stewardship Council is a newly formed body dedicated to shifting New York's product waste management system from one focused on government funded and ratepayer financed waste diversion to one that relies on Extended Producer Responsibility in order to reduce public costs and drive improvements in product design that promote environmental sustainability. The Council was created in March 2009 under the auspices of the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management . NYPSC is constituted primarily of representatives of local government agencies, together with representatives of other stakeholder groups that support the product stewardship approach, including state solid waste officials, businesses, recyclers and the environmental community. This unique partnership works to integrate the principles of product stewardship into the policy and economic structures of New York State. NYPSC provides local and state government outreach and educational guidance and information on product stewardship benefits, programs and efforts.

Precursors to Product Stewardship

There are a number of New York State programs that are not complete product stewardship programs but include a number of the same components of a take back program. These include:

The following links leave the NYS DEC website.

Other National Product Stewardship Programs

In addition to New York State's efforts there are a number of national voluntary product stewardship programs already in place. They include:

Rechargeable Batteries: The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) has established a national take back program for rechargeable batteries as well as cell phones.

Mercury-Containing Auto Switches: These switches can be collected through a national take back program called the End-of-Life Vehicle Switch collection program or (ELVS). ELVS has contracted with a national environmental services company to facilitate dismantlers/recyclers removal of automotive mercury switches prior to a vehicle being scrapped.

Mercury-Containing Thermostats: The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) has established a national take back program for mercury-containing thermostats.

Other Product Stewardship Links:

CalRecycle Extended Producer Responsibility: This website contains case studies on product stewardship programs for selected products; comparisons of product stewardship vs. government-run programs; reports; and information on jobs. There are also tools such as a sample table of suggested metrics for program measurement, tracking, and evaluation, and an Excel-based jobs analysis tool.

Product Stewardship Institute (PSI): This link also contains links to regional and state product stewardship councils including New York State's.

Product Policy Institute (PPI): This link also contains links to regional and state product stewardship councils including New York State's.

California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC): This link also contains links to regional and state product stewardship councils including New York State's.

Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) Product Stewardship Policy: The Product Stewardship Framework Policy Document is at the bottom of the page.

State of Maine Product Stewardship Program